Panto-monium at its best! (Review)

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Craig Hollingsworth and Iain Lauchlan as Idle Jack and Sarah the Cook.

Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre pantomime has long been a highlight in the Midlands’ Christmas theatre calendar. And 2017 is certainly no exception.

Our hapless hero for this year’s offering, Dick Whittington is lured to London by the promise of ‘streets paved with gold’ and, with his faithful cat by his side, he wastes no time in searching for his fortune in the big city.

It would not be deserving of its panto status without a healthy helping of corny jokes and ‘organised’ mayhem. There was certainly no shortage of that.

For the third year running writer and director Iain Lauchlan, as Dame Sarah the Cook, serves up a festive recipe for success with regular sidekick Craig Hollingsworth, who plays her son Idle Jack.

And as has come to be expected, the duo are on top comedic form, with the laughs delivered thick and fast.

Tricia Adele Hunter, who plays Dick, has plenty of fun alongside Iain and Craig, and is an endearing principal boy with a good grasp of the Gloucestershire accent and a fine singing voice to boot.

He proves to be more than a match for panto villain Melone M’Kenzy who offers just the right amount of evil as Queen Rat, intent on taking over the world with the help of her army of meddlesome rats.

But Fairy Bow Bells, played by Anna Mitcham, is always on hand to sprinkle some magic fairydust and take her arch enemy down a peg or two. Her cockney rhyming slang character is a fun touch.

When Dame Sarah and Jack join forces to bake a wedding cake the mess and mayhem which ensue make for a riotous scene – and a familiar favourite element of the show for regular fans.

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And of course, it wouldn’t be a Belgrade panto without plenty of audience participation, so get ready to throw balls at Pokearats, and pull silly faces when performing the Biggin Hill Bumblebees’ haka! And of course you’ll be called upon for lots of singing, cheering and hissing along the way.

The impressive set, choreography and costumes are the icing on the cake but most memorable is the underwater scene when our heroes’ ship runs into trouble.

Dick Whittington is an absolute delight for panto lovers of all ages so be sure to join in the fun. It plays until 7th January.