“It’s funny,” said the two-year-old panto novice sitting next to me as the Dame fell over revealing her ample underwear.
And, in parts at least, she was right, albeit most of the humour in Dick Whittington, the Key Theatre panto which opened last week, appealed to the age group she and her four-year-old sister, also giggling nearby, fall into.
Now that is no bad thing, and there was more than enough funny bits and the odd bit of satire (thank you Donald Trump and Brexit) in Brad Fitt’s script to carry the story of the boy who sought out the streets paved with gold and went on to become Lord Mayor... not that there is much of a story in Dick Whittington.
I did enjoy the start and thought Helen Power’s appearances as Essex girl Fairy Bowbells were the highlight of the show. Her bluesy song at the end of the first act was my favourite on the night.
The songs in general from Simon Egerton were catchy enough – I did like the jokey plumbing-based ditty – although let down by some acoustics issues... in Row D at least.
Rosalind Steele was very likeable as Dick, and made the most of the part, as did Louisa Beadel as Alice.
Emma Jane Morton was a very expressive Tommy The Cat, even if she didn’t say a word apart from “Meow” and the occasional “woof” in an amusing “clever disguise” routine.
Robin Johnson was menacing as King Rat – and got the boos he deserved – but merited more stage time and perhaps a few more gags, while regular Key Theatre Dame Darren Machin (Sarah the Cook) didn’t quite have the appeal of recent years, likewise James Peake, usually an absolute hoot, as Idle Jack .
Special mention though for the youngsters who sang and danced enthusiastically throughout.
Entertainment-wise it was the best Key panto for a couple of years at least – and the first act in particular flowed nicely.
The second act descended into a series of panto fillers – the ghost, water pistols, audience singsong and the wedding – appropriate given the jokes were old, new, borrowed and blue (re Master Whittington’s Christian name!).
Dick Whittington runs at The Key Theatre until January 8. Contact the box office on 01733 207239 or go to www.vivacity-peterborough.com