Macbeth – the pantomime, Castle Players at Lytchett Matravers

LINSEY O’Neill’s hysterical Castle Players pantomime is based on the story of Macbeth, with a few other Shakespearean plays thrown in for good measure, and liberally sprinkled with a satirical look at game shows and “reality” television and the traditions of the panto genre.

What could possibly go wrong ­– other than the electrocution of a leading actor, groan-inducing jokes and lots of Queenly audience participation.

It does help if you know the Sottish play, and if you are acquainted with one of the shows that were the “inspiration” for Lytchett’s Got the Strictly Voice Pop Star on Love Island Factor.

It’s a cut-throat world on the TV talent shows, and one that Dave MacBeth really wants to win.  Not so much as his lovely wife Laydee wants it, though. So she enlists the help of three witches who spend their time round a fire pit …..

To avoid further spoilers – because it would be much better for your to see this inventive and welcomely different panto, on to the company.

Perhaps it was a bit unfair to visit the first night and I am sure the glitches will be sorted as the 24-strong cast gain confidence.

Banquo is the twin brother of   karaoke king Duncan Blue (fortunate, as both are played by the very funny Phil Mc Mullen, with Steve O’Neill as his arch rival Dave Mac­beth and Deanna Lang­ford as the scheming Laydee M.

On the podium are Simone Cow (Val Holland), Bruno Spagettelli (Pete Bennett and a wig) and Will-i-am Shakespeare (Richard Owen) who speaks in Shakespearean throughout!

The love interest is diffident young Marty Macduff (Mollie Burdon) and Rocky Roadie (Lucie Harding) and Marty’s mum is the larger than life Mamma Macduff, in the Grayson Perry-inspired form of Steve Moore.

Then there are performers in the show, an introducing duo …  all the familiar elements of the contest shows including the scream-inducing delayed climaxes as results are announced.

Writer and director Linsey has made ingeniously free with the conventions of both pantomime and Bardic productions, bending them to suit the story and delighting both audience and cast.

Perhaps a bit more attention needs to be on the singing. In some cases microphones might be a better use of funds than lasers.

But overall this is a colourful, energetic and hilarious show, and it really is new. Congratulations Castle Players.

There are performances on 25th and 31st January and on 1st February, and if you want a good laugh, go along.


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