Dick Turpin

Production: Dick Turpin
Venue: York Theatre Royal
Rating: ****

This season The York Theatre Royal plays host to the larger-than-life pantomime ‘Dick Turpin’. Penned by the pantomime dame himself, Berwick Kaler, it celebrates his 30th year of pantomime at York Theatre Royal.

Amidst a brilliant and quirky set, we see the alternative story of Dick Turpin, who we are told, has been recalled unfairly by history. The Turpin is portrayed as a cheeky Irish-dancing rogue. He steals jewels from the women and in return for a kiss, promptly returns said trophies! His archenemy is the villainous vampire played by David Leonard, who aspires to turn the city of York into ‘Gothland’. This has been described as ‘the most historically incorrect pantomime ever written’. However, these inaccuracies ensure an original and refreshing script. It leaves the audience on tenterhooks, eager to know what else could possibly befall the characters.

There really is a bit of everything in this panto, resulting in a slight lack of coherence between scenes but this does not taint the enjoyment of it. A highlight of the production was the televised scene of Turpin’s 200 mile train ride with his trusty steed Black Bess. It depicted the journey from London Kings Cross to York station and featured some very amused commuters and a visually stunning neon show set within the York Dungeons. There are plenty popular culture references to make the show relevant. Most memorable was a Amy Winehouse-esque rendition of ‘The council offered me a pre-fab but I said no, no, no’.

The script appears to be an eclectic culmination of Kaler’s thirty years of experience in the business, and the audience is putty in his experienced hands. He successfully entertains both young and old, pulling back many dedicated followers year after year, to a professional and enjoyable shows. An especially enjoyable piece of improvisation came when the lead roles broke out of character after the villain’s lost sandwich, bought 2 hours earlier for his dinner, appeared on the set. Upon finding it, the cast stifled genuine fits of giggles.

The whole show was hugely enjoyable and visually exciting, cast, crew and audience alike appeared to have a lot of fun. At only £5 for a student ticket, embrace the pantomime spirit and throw yourself into enjoying this Christmas tradition. Even after having a particularly bad day, I couldn’t help but forget my woes and revel in this self-indulgent bit of theatre.

Dick Turpin is showing at The York Theatre Royal until January 31st

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