“I can’t say I was expecting Dick at this time of the morning”
A review by Tanya Howard
It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been to see a pantomime and this year I’ve been struggling to get into the Christmas spirit but all that changed when I went to see Dick Whittington at the Lyric Hammersmith. Written and directed by Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd, the show has been given a light-hearted political twist, serving a main dish of comedy with a side platter of saucy remarks. Inevitable with a hero named Dick.
With Major Pigeon retiring as Major of London the power mad meanie Queen Rats thinks that she can cheat her way to victory in the mayoral election. New to town Dick Whittington, a wide eyed, daft Welshman, forms an alliance with Tom Cat and Bow Belles, a fairy, to oppose Queen Rat for the role of Major. But when Queen Rat sets Dick up to look like a thief to struggling café owner Sarah Fitzwarren, who took him in when he was mugged, will Dick leave London for good or will he fight for his reputation and the role of major.
The live music, directed by Oli Jackson, takes the show to another level with popular pop songs being reimagined for the show and the standard of singing is incredible. Jodie Jacobs, as Bow Bells, absolutely commands the stage with her belter of a voice, especially on her duet with Sarah-Louise Young, Queen Rat, when they sing Fairytale of New York. Other songs include ‘Who Runs The World’ but as you can guess it’s not girls but rats, and I’m guessing Dua Lipa never expected her New Rules to be used in conjunction with breakfast.
Kezia Joseph blazes in her role of Tom Cat, although don’t make her venture out of Zone 2, and Margaret Cabourn-Smith features in a triple casting as Mayor Pigeon, Captain P-Jones and First Minister Mergeon, bringing a wealth of comedy to each role. Captain P-Jones, the majors long lost twin, finds Dick and Tom on his boat after Queen Rat captured them and threw them aboard Boaty McBoatface to get them out of London.
The boat shipwrecks but this ends up being the best thing that could happen to Dick and Tom because they end up in an Underwater Kingdom that has been taken over by Queen Rat. Dick and Tom find their courage and run the rats out from under the sea and this gives them the strength to go back to London to run for Major. Queen Rat and Dick have a sing off to Mr Brightside as part of their Mayoral speeches before Dick is announced as the winner and Queen Rat leaves forever.
Whilst the show is aimed at youngsters, the writers definitely couldn’t resist the odd adult treat with comments like “I can’t say I was expecting Dick at this time of the morning” or Dick being referred to as a ‘salty seaman’ on the boat. The innuendos are not too over the top and not often enough to be offensive. The audience were in hysterics for the majority of the show and the atmosphere felt amplified as this was Lyric’s 10th anniversary production.
I would definitely recommend seeing the show, not only was it enjoyable for the children in the audience but also the adults. Although one spectator who may or may not agree would be Russell, Queen Rat asks for his name and tells him he’s not called Russell but Mr Poo Poo, a simple joke but funny none the less. Thinking that was his humiliation done and dusted he couldn’t have been more wrong as he was then pulled on stage to be Dame Sarah’s dance partner.