Reviewed by Beth Cowan
The Mayflower Theatre is Close 6 minute walk from Southampton central train station, with lots of restaurants to eat at before visiting the theatre- so it’s in an ideal location for those who have to travel. On arrival, I noticed a disabled access door with a ramp and there are lifts to each level of the theatre. The staff were friendly and helpful, and all wearing masks! There was hand sanitiser placed at every entrance and around the venue. The Foyer, where we were greeted, was very clean and well decorated, with some interesting history on the background of the theatre- which is a nice exhibit to explore while waiting for the house to open! The air conditioning in the foyer and bar area was just right for myself, but I run warm so perhaps bring a jacket as it is an old building, it may get a little chilly! There were multiple bar areas and a snack station at the very centre of the foyer, meaning there’s plenty of time for a bite and some refreshments before you’ve got to head in for the show! The Mayflower also takes contactless payments at each till, for those who don’t wish to travel with cash or use the machines in the current COVID situation. The bar wasn’t overpriced as can sometimes be expected in theatre venues, the soft drinks were reasonably priced at around £2 and the alcoholic drinks varying. It was also refreshing to see recycling bins around the venue! Before house opened, I checked out the toilets, they were clean and modest… I couldn’t find a disabled toilet very easily but there is one, separate from the other cubicles… it could be better signposted!
On entering the actual theatre house, the ushers were very kind and didn’t rush us to our seats even when it was a sold out show with a lot of children and big groups to manage. The fire exits were clearly shown and I spotted more than one fire extinguisher and first aid kit! By the time we got to our seats, which were very easy to find due to the well lit seat numbers and rows. The seats were very comfy, not a lot of leg room, but they made up for that in having booster seats on hand for the little ones! Great view of the stage from our seats in row K… from what I saw of the rest of the seating areas there were none with obstructed/restricted view.
The show itself was truly magical, quite literally- with magic on stage that I could not explain! Dianne Pilkington played the marvellous Miss Price, and exceeded expectations, especially when comparisons will naturally be made to the wonderful Angela Lansbury in the Film! The children who played Carrie and Paul, Izabella Bucknell and Haydn Court, respectively, stood out to me for their extraordinary talent at such a young age, they were still performing with full energy at 10pm whilst many kids in the audience were getting sleepy at that time. Perhaps an early showing time would be better for a musical catered to families. One of the most outstanding things was the use of puppetry, not just little hand puppets like we often see in children’s theatre, but huge two person, intricately designed characters, such as the famous King Leonidas, The lion- who was a little more serious and regal than the films version. The audience all seemed to really enjoy the show, lots of laughs and moments of silence in the right places! The songs were cheery and uplifting, I think some of the children were lacking a sense of modern relevance, with it being set in the War time with old references there wasn’t a sense of the modern kids age, like they are used to! The scenery and the through line of the show was very visually dynamic, lots of colours and styles switching in between each scene. For example the warm and humble colours in “Portobello Road” and the cool and bright ocean colours in “beautiful briny sea” were wonderfully contrasting. The themes of War were handled with sensitivity and caution, it wasn’t too scary for young audiences, but it was still clear they were the “scary” antagonist. It is a beautifully designed theatre, keeping its grand early 1900 structure, but not too outdated, it was very clean and clear that the venue maintains regular upkeep of the paint work and general decoration of the house area. The seats and floors were clean, no leftover food or stains anywhere! The show was fantastic and the ushers were helpful throughout, especially due to the lack of social distancing guidelines, encouraging mask wearing and ensuring everyone had a pleasant and undisturbed experience
Tickets cost from £29.50
BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS: A magical musical is at the MAYFLOWER THEATRE, SOUTHAMPTON from 11th-16th January 2022, for more information or to book tickets visit https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/bedknobs-and-broomsticks-2022/ or call the box office on 02380711811
22-26 Commercial road, Southampton. So15 1GE