Reviewed by Nigel Chester
We were fortunate enough to find ourselves in the amazing Edwardian Buxton Opera House. Every inch of this venue is a step back to yesteryear and what better to be seeing on stage than the quintessential English pantomime.
There is a formula to panto – it is barmy and it is fun, we attend with an expectation that we will be shouting “He’s behind you” and “oh no it isn’t”, with all the topical jokes and not so subtle innuendo that every theatre goer anticipates being part of the slapstick fun.
This year, Buxton Opera House presents Dick Whittington, the ultimate story of rags to riches, based on the life of the four-times Mayor of London who lived in the late fourteenth century. Our Dick was played was played by Matthew J Ryan, he carried his role well and had a good interaction with the audience.
As with all good panto, there is a villain and ours was King Rat (Alistair Lee), he was menacing enough but had a twinkle in his eye so he wasn’t frightening. The five-year-old with us, declared that he was her favourite character, that I feel is praise indeed.
Dick’s love interest is Alice (Gabrielle Green) portrayed a perfect balance between an able young woman and a love-struck teenager.
The Dame, such a pivotal role in panto was delivered by James Holmes, as Sarah the cook.
So, why go to see this pantomime, when there are so many more to choose from? Firstly, I think that if you have a young child, who hasn’t been to such a show before, Buxton offers the full package, it has every scene you hope for, with some big sets as well as simple explanations to help move the story along.
The lighting (Guy Dunk) was fabulous and created such a good atmosphere. It was up to date modern, but knew where its roots were.
Costumes were fantastic and Sarah the cook had some of the Dame outfits I have ever seen. I especially liked the crew going aboard the sailing ship, the Saucy Sal.
The performance lasted approximately two and a half hours with an interval to purchase refreshments and the most divine ice cream and the almost obligatory flashing toy but I feel that the programme, at £2 is worth every penny, with good information but lots of activities and fun things to do that keep the magic alive, well into the next day.
On our journey home, we all chatted excitedly about the full, fun-packed and fantastic evening that we had enjoyed together, from the youngest to the oldest, this was panto at its best.
Oh yes it was!!!
Tickets cost from £15.50 to £23 (booking fees may apply).
Dick Whittington is at Buxton Opera House from 8-30 December 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit buxtonoperahouse.org.uk or call the box office on 01298 72190.
Buxton Opera House, Water Street, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6XN | 01298 72190