Dick Whittington, Northcott Theatre, Exeter

EIGHT years ago the south west’s Great Dame, Steve Bennett, popped out of the Northcott Theatre at Exeter University (where he had held sway in his petticoats  for 15 years)  to do a bit of shopping.  Well, you know what these women are!

But, with a basket full of new comic goodies, he’s back in style as Dame Sarah Suet in the 2017/18 Christmas show, Dick Whittington

There’s general rejoicing at the Northcott, both by the new management team and by audiences.   I saw the show at 10am on a Tuesday, in an auditorium full of school children not quite warmed up to the early hour for a show, half of whom were on coaches stuck in traffic and consequently filed in nearly 30 minutes into the show

It’s a tribute to the excellence of the script and the performers that they brought the hilarity, energy and colour of traditional pantomime  through, gently but determinedly seducing the audience into the more typical squeals, boos and hisses.

The really beautiful sets and costumes, designed by Kelly Jago, create the perfect setting for magic and mayhem.

Dick Whittington (Emily Essery) has been turned out of the disco he runs in Exeter when the Health ad Safety Executive found rats in the premises. He sets off with his faithful cat Puss to find his fortune in London, where the streets are paved with gold (or so he believes)  We meet him sleeping in the snow, Puss at his side, and visited by forest creatures. Enter the glamourous King Rat, in the charismatic personage of Jeffrey Harmer.   Of course, his plan is to fill London with ratlings and reign supreme, but our hero stands in his way.

You know the story … but this time it comes with a few twists to keep you on your toes

Steve Bennett’s frequent sidekick Gordon Cooper returns to the Northcott as Captain Darling, with Martin Reeve as Alderman Fitz­warren and Annabel Warwick as a terrific Alice, much more interesting and spirited than usual – and what a voice!

It’s splendidly staged with an excellent band. The company, with Steve at its core, takes the show back to the great days of panto at the Northcott. A terrific show for all the family, and it’s on until 7th January. Don’t miss it.


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