Dick Whittington by Saxilby Drama Circle 15 February 2020
A local drama group shows the real meaning of panto in their take on the tale of Dick Whittington.
Ask most people what their first experience was and they will tell you that it wasa visit to the pantomime. As this charming pantomime reaches the end of its run, we are reminded that you don't need soap stars or B list celebrities to attract an audience but you do need an audience of kids or big kids in the form of adults and you need to keep them entertained. Director Richard Kort brings a local flavour to a wholesome family show and runs a tight ship as he juggles the multiple demands of a panto producer.
We all know the story of Dick Whittington, the young but handsome vagabond who trhough pluck and guile wins the heart of fair maid Alice Fitzwarren and goes on to become Lord Mayor of London.. The two romantic leads offered deft performances and really stood out. Chloe Thurston is fabulous in the role of Dick, singing and dancing to win the hearts of the audience and Alice. And matching her step for step and note for , as Dick's love interest is Lucy Hajoudj in an untterly winning performance, full of wit and grace. A match made in Heaven - well in Saxilby!
The fairy of the show is Fairy Bowbells played by Rachel Mitchell with a sweetness and a feline touch that causes her to provide Dick with a best friend called Tommy the Cat. Tommy wins best smile on stage hands down as Bridie Bear gives a memorable performance despite being almost totally devoid of lines!
The comic relief is ably provided by Mark Stoneham as Idle Jack playing the fool and getting the kids on his side as he hopelessly falls for Alice only to lose out to Dick (!) Old-stager Ian Atkinson steals the show as Sally the Cook. He gives a master class in comic timing and selling jokes to a willing audience. He is not afraid to go the extra mile as e spins a yarn, sends himself up and gives the humour "a little bit of blue for the Dads" as Peter Kay might say. Thankfully such jokes fly over the heads of children. His employed Alderman Fitzwarren is played with a vitality and great humour by Paul Bridge.
Finally, special mention must be given to Scott Ward as the terrifyingly villainous King Rat, intent on framing and thwarting Dick and Tommy. A child two seats from me kept saying he wanted his Dad and wanted to go home every time King Rat plotted and prowled across the stage - surely a mark of true success for a panto villain!
This show is a vibrant, colourful triumph and delivers an incredibly high level of quality on what can only be a limited budget. The chorus added to the spectacle and the costumes by Pam Burnett and Margaret Hogan really deserve a special mention too, as they looked rich and sumptuous, always adding to the joyful pictures painted on stage.
A production of this nature is a team effort and everyone's contributions should be recognised., if only we had the space. Thank goodness local companies such as Saxilby Drama Circle continue to offer entertainment of this kind and provide an outlet for young and old to enjoy good, wholesome family entertainment. Watch out for their next offering in May when they will present Ladies In Retirement, I look forward to reviewing that too. Let's keep arts in Lincolnshire live!
Andy Evans for Review Culture 15 February 2020