Fat Rascal Theatre (who I recently gave a 5* review to for BUZZ: A New Musical) have had a go at their first adult pantomime. The easiest way to go, of course, with an adult panto, is to choose one that has enough innuendo in the title to keep the rest of the show rolling, thus we are given the story of Puss in Boots! And oh how Puss jokes do run. On the audience suggestion that Colin (Allie Munro, our principal boy) will need to eat his cat for survival, he sings ‘I can’t eat my own pussy’…which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the show.
Colin puts some boots on his pussy (Rosie Raven) to bring him to life, in the form of a too-cool-for-school pussy cat, wearing silver leggings and smoking a cig. A very Trump-esque villain, King George (Katie Wells), takes to the stage via bicycle (lovely use of the ‘enter-a-character-on-a-vehicle’ convention) and is set to match his daughter, Princess Fififi (Phoebe Batteson-Brown) with a suitor. Batterson-Brown is sickly sweet as the Princess and makes the versatile transformation from fairy-tale princess to chav duo, as she multi-roles alongside Wells as brothers Barry and Paul (who feature in a hilariously choreographed duet; chorus line kick included!). You know an actor is versatile when they’re playing two roles and it takes an on-stage costume change for you to notice! In fact, it’s hard to believe that the whole show is done with a cast of four and a pianist (with very tight trousers, as the lady in the front row happened to notice early on, sending her into fits of giggles for most of the night).
The quirky choreography, from four old ladies staggering across the stage to full-on panto dance routines, gives it an animated, cartoon-esque feel, doing justice to the style.
Characters talk to the audience to make sure we’re involved and even get one lucky fellow up on stage for a bit of stripping; it was Will, this evening, and he was very game! The love ballad is like something out of a Disney movie and does just enough to take us off our feet, and the Christmas presents song fits the panto bill, making it a jolly entertaining skit. Wells’ body language is caricatured with the very necessary topical references to building walls and fancying one’s own daughter. Robyn Grant (as the Narrator/Queen) blows through the roof with her belting riffs, thoroughly entertaining as we enter to find our seats, with a dynamic presence, making her compelling to watch.
Raven’s Puss in Boots is a little dull, with a voice that just doesn’t match up to the rest of the cast; she needs a bit more warmth in her character to build a solid rapport with the audience. Her improvisation, based on audience reaction, also feels rather flat. However, with such a talented cast, it’s easy to stand out when you’re not quite as capturing as the rest.
Despite a talented group of actors, the show itself just doesn’t completely work; the explicit innuendo and blunt comedy sucks most the life out of this pantomime, so it’s just generally not that funny. However, its animation, genius plot twist and climactic song lyrics like ‘I can’t wait to be inside of you’ (at the end of a romantic ballad) do guide us along and keep us engaged, for the most part.
Review by Joseph Winer
From the filthy minds behind BUZZ: A New Musical (winner Stella Wilkie Award, Eddies Award, Edinburgh Fringe Sell Out Show), Fat Rascal Theatre presents its first adult pantomime, coming to the Drayton Arms Theatre this Christmas.
When young Colin is left with nothing but a cat in his father’s will he’s ready to give up. He is a millennial after all. It’s left to Puss to sort his master’s life out, rid the land of evil and gain Colin enough standing to marry the beautiful (but vacant) princess Fififi, because as 2016 has proved, anyone can rule a kingdom if you tell enough lies.
Join our naughty pussy on a magical adventure featuring original music, side-splitting laughs and special effects that will make you think we actually have some kind of budget. Leave grandma at home with the cheeseboard and let Fat Rascal Theatre purr-suade you to try something a little different this year.
Puss in Boots
Saturday 17 December 2016 – Saturday 07 January 2017