Review: Dick Whittington
Writer: Rosie Fletcher
Director: Alexander Lawless and Patrick Fysh
Producer: Anna Shaw and Alice Woodhall
I have been to the pantomime at least once every year of my life, being taught from day one that this is tradition. Despite the inherent English-ness of this tradition, however, I am aware that it has become an acquired taste. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the student PantSoc as different sources told me different things: raving about it, condemning it. Rarely did I come across ambivalence – it seemed very much a marmite issue. At 7:30pm on Saturday evening I prepared myself to enter Central Hall and pick the seat in which I would sit for three and a half hours in, apparently, either raucous laughter or despair.
As it turns out, the latter becomes impossible: the cast attack all musical numbers, scenes, and dances without restraint, and challenge the audience to interact. Panto-haters would be hard-pressed not to laugh and marvel at the sheer courage of the 52-strong cast.
Rosie Fletcher’s script left no aspect of pantomime unexplored, from the irresistible “Dick” jokes, and “he’s behind you!” to political satire. As they pulled out all the stops, they also took conventional aspects of pantomime to another level. The all too memorable Miss Anne Throppe, played by Josh Giles, stepped up the role of drag queen with a shocking fishnets/leotard/heels number for a rendition of ‘Single Ladies’. As the show progressed, the jokes became more daring. Having begun with a light-hearted and spot on parody of York University stereotypes (to which the audience knowingly laughed), at the end we were left screaming as Idle Jack is trapped under ‘The Jizz Blanket’.
Every scene or character, however seemingly unrelated it may have been, was redeemed by something memorable, explicit, or knee-slap funny, and they themselves would recognise any blatant inconsistency. I shrank in my seat as they sought out the Nouse reporter to shout over a mock apology for something explicit or irrelevant.
The confident and self-mocking production was complimented by slick choreography and costume, leaving everybody speechless and impressed by this tribute to the national tradition of pantomime.