I suppose an adult Panto can be performed in many different ways. They might be aimed at children, whilst filled with adult humour, or an adult show at the bare bones with Panto conventions to fill the gaps. Excess all Areas’ (EAA) panto didn’t quite define itself one way or another.
A loose plot (totally acceptable) told the story (sort of) of Dick, a poor boy who moves to London to seek his… ok we all know the story. On his way, he meets Puss; a kitten in heels (once purchased with a shiny penny). Then there was an ogre and King Rat and a whole host of storylines that didn’t quite fit together.
Paul L. Martin played Dame Jimmy Choo, owner of the local chemist; a role he has clearly mastered over the years and delivered splendidly. Martin also wrote the script…and if you didn’t know this beforehand, there were certainly enough references to get it by the end. But there was a mix of the adult pantomime genres: at times we were ladies and gents, at others boys and girls. Whilst some scenes attempted at the cheesy feel of the pantomime fairy-tale, others were blatantly for the adult nature of the show…a nature that would have worked better had it have been consistently featured and stuck to.
Solid performances from Ashton Charge (Dick); a perfect happy-chappy Panto boy, and Holly Aisbitt; Dame Choo’s daughter and Dick’s love interest. Becky Finlay-Hall had perhaps the best balance of what needed to be achieved: a character from a family show, surrounded and immersed with innuendo. It would have been nice to have seen more of this across the board.
Fancy Chance played the filler roles… an attempt by the writer to move the plot along. A lovely range of accents and voices that made no sense in the context and received some forced laughter at the most. Potentially too much method in the madness.
Jamie Anderson as King Rat (also in heels), delighted with a rendition of ‘We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off’ and sung unexpectedly well. I’m not sure how I feel about the audience interaction he went for; moving into the audience, chugging a bottle of wine from the middle of the stalls and making out with a man’s face…which was followed by asking a gentleman in the front row to move his mic pack from the bottom of his tights where it had fallen. A step further, and it would have been too far. The balance was right; slightly skewed towards just-plain-wrong.
Costumes were somewhat uneven across the characters. Some superb, colourful outfits for the Dame with some lovely wigs. Martin’s make-up was also well designed, with some wonderful eye makeup which complimented his expressive eyes very well. I think that, bearing in mind a probably minimal budget, money was spent in the right places for costumes.
I must finally praise the song choices, each one perfectly fitting, even if slightly unexpected. Dame Choo’s rendition of Memory could certainly feel out of place in many a Panto, but the delivery made it fit perfectly. Other highlights include 500 Miles, Together Wherever we Go (Gypsy) and my personal fave: We Built This Panto on Pro-se-co!
I think in hindsight I should have taken more advantage of the bar that was at the back of the auditorium (yes… a bar in the auditorium!)… it seems those who did had a much more enjoyable experience than me. Luckily, this production was saved by some decent performances, creative song-choices and moments of humour.
Review by Joseph Winer
KITTEN IN HEELS
Puss in Boots with a dash of Dick! Celebrate 15 years of strictly adult fun with the hilarious cast of the Excess All Areas pantomime populated by some of cabaret’s finest performers offering an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza of silly.
When Dick inherits a talking cat with a penchant for fancy footwear, he and Puss journey to London to seek their fortune. Once there, they land a job with Dame Choo of Shoes the Chemist whose daughter, Jenny, Dick falls madly in love with. But will they all live happily ever after? With King Rat lurking in the shadows, a castle-dwelling ogre to contend with (yes, really) and a mayoral race to win, it’s anyone’s guess!
Kitten in Heels
December 10th – 12th and 18th – 20th 2015, 8pm, Doors open 7:30pm
Running Time: 2 hrs (with interval)
LOST Theatre, 208 Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2JU
Box Office: £17.50 (plus booking fee),
www.paullmartin.com, Group discounts available
N.B: This event is for Adults ONLY. Ticket holders must be 18yrs and over.