Review - Dick Whittington (Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury)

Well, it's that time of year again... fairy lights are popping up left right and centre, you can't move for tinsel, and quality street sharing boxes are stacked up higher than the Eiffel tower. Yep, the countdown to Christmas has officially begun, which means families will be heading down to their local theatre to enjoy the age old British tradition of pantomime!
The cast of Dick Whittington at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Photo credit - Paul Clapp
This year, the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury is housing Dick Whittington, a panto full of festive fun for the whole family. Kids will love the show's slapstick comedy while parents will revel in the more mature (and sometimes extremely raunchy) jokes, and everyone, regardless of age, will enjoy the irresistibly electric atmosphere during the audience participation sections! 

Dick Whittington himself is brought to life by the charming Ben Carruthers, who leads several brilliant musical numbers excellently, and holds his own amongst his more larger-than-life co-stars. Not an easy task when the outrageously funny panto dame Dolly The Cook is never far from the spotlight! As Dolly, Marlowe pantomime stalwart Ben Roddy (who has appeared in 7 Marlowe Theatre pantos over the years) is extremely sharp and develops a brilliant rapport with both the audience and his fellow cast mates! During one particularly messy scene, Dolly teams up with Captain Crabstick (Lloyd Hollett) and the pair embark on a no holds barred routine, featuring a tilting stage platform, tons of slime and a boatload of innuendos.

The fun doesn't stop there either! There are some astonishing magic tricks, courtesy of TV personality and magician Stephen Mulhern, a staggering slapstick trampolining routine by professional gymnast and circus artist Vladimir Georgievsky, and more musical references than you can shake a magic wand at. It's also particularly amusing to hear Lisa Davina Phillip's Fairy Bow-Bells narrate the show using a rewritten version of Broadway phenomenon Hamilton's title song, as she tells the story of 'Richard Henry Whittington'. Additionally, the act 2 opening number is a brilliantly enthusiastic version of classic Guys and Dolls tune Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat, and John Barr as the Rat King gives numbers such as And I Am Telling You from Dreamgirls, and Don't Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl a sinister twist during the show too. 

The production itself is big, bright, and beautifully gaudy! The sets and costumes are colourful and kitschy, and the production really goes all out with gimmicky yet undeniably exciting elements such as the use of 3D glasses in one particularly fun scene. Another, a big, cheesy love duet between Dick and his love interest Alice (Jemma Carlisle), is played in front of a gauze onto which dozens of lovehearts are projected, while behind the gauze their love story is acted out in dreamlike dance form. There are so many unashamedly showy moments, each of which simply strengthens the hugely enjoyable panto tropes which audiences know and love!  

As far as pantos are concerned, bigger is always better, and it's hard to imagine a bigger panto than the Marlowe Theatre's Dick Whittington. Like all the best family shows, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Audiences are guaranteed to leave with a smile on their faces, and at the end of the day that is exactly what pantomimes are all about.

Oh yes they are! 

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