It’s impossible to be bah humbug about Christmas at a pantomime, especially when surrounded by 200 excitable, screaming seven year olds. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, at Blackfriars until January 4th, is pure old school panto, with director Keith ‘Appy!’ Hopkins living up to his name as Britain’s no 1 panto dame in the role of Dame Kitty.
It takes a while to get going, but once all the goodies have been introduced, you can settle back and start enjoying the corny jokes, catchphrases and costume changes. Before you know it, you’ll be booing at the Wicked Queen and singing along with Muddles, played by the effortlessly cheerful panto heavyweight Dave Peters.
The show nips along at a speedy pace, the story helped along by plenty of dance sequences, popular songs and slapstick. Hopkins, who has more costume changes than Madonna, is marvellous as the Dame, jollying the audience along throughout. Indeed, this is a panto that all the family can enjoy, even quite young children. Anna Conway plays an angular and cruel Queen Cruella, but she’s not too scary, largely because the audience are encouraged to boo and heckle her every time she takes the stage.
A rebellious blue budgie called Edward was the unexpected highlight of the second half, who performs, when he feels like it, with circus professional Norman Barrett and other feathered friends. However, the real star of this show was the audience. Anyone who grumbles about the state of British youth should come and see the show. Boston’s kids couldn’t be more friendly, helpful or considerate. Indeed, at times they were on their feet, desperate to help the characters on stage by pointing and yelling at ear-splitting volume, “IT’S BEHIND YOU!!”, or “SPIT IT OUT!!!!” to Snow White as she eats the apple. If that doesn’t embody the spirit of Christmas, I don’t know what does.
Published in the Boston Standard, Dec 2008