Trumping Panda Steals Show!
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
Where there’s any doubt that panto audiences might fail to laugh directors in these parts can always resort to the tried and tested……a good old dose of lavatorial humour!
Lawrence Batley Theatre’s farting panda Ping-Pong did just the trick as Aladdin steam rollered into Huddersfield with all the panache of a triple strength laxative……..and they loved it!
There is something about us Brits that ‘wind’ has the uncanny ability to release in the funny bones (the Germans just don’t get it) and, while it is not sophisticated, it is hilarious, allowing us to guffaw at everything that runs contrary to good manners and political correctness; a breath of fresh air you might say (or not)!
This is the second LBT offering I have reviewed and it was nice to see the return of a few cast regulars, because familiarity not only breeds a tight-knit team, but delivers the vital ‘affectionate contempt’ that is required by a successful dame…..in this instance Robin Simpson in his Doc Martens!
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Simpson’s entrance lifted what began as a lack-lustre performance, simply because the panto felt ‘scripted’…….’oh this is my line’. As soon as he targeted ‘Simon’ in the front row, we were off. Simon became the butt of everyone’s jokes and the panto shifted into another gear.
Some of the incidental parts, Sergeant Nee and Constable Naw, worked with the very young kids but were a little too ‘young’ for the nine year olds, however, Nicola Jayne Ingram’s Barnsley Genie of the Lamp and her take on Freddie Mercury was absolutely hilarious, with sterling performances by Stephanie ‘Su Pollard’ Hackett as the Genie of the Ring, Thomas Cotran as Aladdin and Alyce Liburd as Princess Jasmine.
Krissi Bohn as the Empress of Peking almost came out of character as she was affectionally goaded into unsolicited laughter by Richard Hand as the resident ‘baddie’, Abanazar, who I had doubts about initially but ended up thinking, ‘he was fantastic’. A really different take on a very naughty boy, slightly Shakespearian with a hint of the manic!
This was my fourth panto review of the season and I took a deep breath at the prospect of a second Aladdin is as many weeks but, in truth, I was not disappointed.
This production began slowly but finished with a bang and left a healthy theatrical legacy for hundreds of locals who, I am sure, will continue to patronise this thoroughly fun offering.
Rating? Get thiseen over there, tha’ll ‘av a reet gud tayme!
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
Until January 6th
Trumping Panda Steals Show!, 23rd December 2018, 20:00 PM