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Snow White and The Seven Merry Men | Review

As is well known, pantomime is the only theatrical art form where adults can really become children once again. Audience interaction with the stage is positively encouraged, and behaviour that would normally elicit that strongest of British condemnation – a severe ‘Tut’ – is met with a smile and a laugh from all around. But there are still limits to permissible behaviour, after all, one wouldn’t want to offend the sprogs would one? However, when the panto in question is an adult one – such as Snow White and the Seven Merry Men which has just opened at the Backstage bar @ the Rialto – then all those rules go out of the window, and freedom of expression reigns supreme.

Ava Cardo
Ava Cardo

In a magical land far, far away, the vain and evil Queen Genetalia (Simon Gross) is one happy monarch. Every day she asks her magic mirror (Luke Brilley) who is the fairest of them all and every day the mirror says it is her. Then one day, the mirror’s answer changes, and it points out that the queen’s daughter, Snow White (Ava Cardo), is about to turn 18 and is way fairer than Genetalia. This miffs the queen, and she decides that not only will she get her henchperson, Horrible Helga (Emily Levick) to kill the princess but she will also marry Prince Donkey Dick of Soho (Jamie Redman), the love of Snow’s life. Is this the end of Snow White or can the seven merry men with the strange names like Sub (Curtis Downey) and Fag Hag (Vicky Langley) who live in the forest ensure that Snow White and the Prince have the happy ever after they desire?

Written by Roger Kitter and Simon Gross (who also directs) Snow White and the Seven Merry Men retains all the aspects that make traditional pantomime fun but adds a further level of adult humour and language that propels the show into the stratosphere of grown-upness. When you arrive, Simon is on stage greeting the audience and starting to build that relationship between viewer and performer that is essential in a production like this. Simon is a real master at working a room and soon has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand as he gets them in the mood for the fun and games to come. Once the show starts, there is the traditional theatrical voiceover about not taking pictures, videoing etc, but even this has its own unique twist that reinforces the notion that this really is ADULT stuff.

Once we get going – with Simon’s wonderful rendition of “Get This Panto Started” (see what he did there?) the narrative sticks very closely to the standard Snow White story beloved of panto audiences nationwide. But the script and changes to song lyrics combined with an excellent cast mean this show is definitely not for kids. Ava Cardo is stunning as Snow White. Sweet, virginal, and innocent but willing and eager to learn about life, Snow has a little glint in her eye to suggest maybe she’s not quite as pure as she makes out. Jamie Redman’s Prince Donkey Dick is a bit of a toff, with a definite eye – and other parts – for the ladies. And believe me, his title is very justified. Be careful if you’re sat on the front row, the prince could have your eye out. However, Jamie is more than an appendage and like Ava, has a great stage presence and lovely singing voice. He’s also a very athletic dancer which is useful as Choreographer Craig Bartley has come up with some highly complicated dance moves that are amazingly energetic.

Who else can we talk about? I loved Luke Brilley as a Magic Mirror with attitude. The mirror, like the sidekick in all panto’s, is full of love that is unrequited, and Luke looked so crestfallen when turned down that I wanted to give him a hug and tell him not to worry, she wasn’t worth it, and all the other cliches people use in these circumstances. Simon Gross as Queen Genetalia is the perfect combination of evilness and that little touch of vulnerability that means while the audience are boo/hissing – and worse – you can’t help feeling a little bit sorry for the Queen that will never get what she wants despite all the effort she puts in. I could talk about each character in detail, but we would then start getting into spoiler territory. I will say that it is a real testament to the quality of the writing that each one had a real fully formed personality.

Was there anything I didn’t like about the show? I can honestly say there wasn’t. The script is tight, but with lots of room for audience interaction and improvisation, the songs are the right ones for the right time, lights (Emily Levick) and costumes (Emily England) complement the story and give the excellent cast the freedom to move, sing and dance to deliver a first-rate production.

To summarise, Snow White and the Seven Merry Men is a fast-paced, superbly put together and performed show that really delivers that superb, fun night out we’ve all been craving for such a long time.

5 Star Rating

Review by Terry Eastham

Read Terry Eastham’s interview with Ava Cardo and Jamie Redman

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1 thought on “Snow White and The Seven Merry Men | Review”

  1. We booked an adult pantomime and got an adult pantomime. We hoped for no pc and that’s what we got! A thoroughly enjoyable and funny show. A great evening. Highly recommended!

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