IF what you want from your Christmas live entertainment is laughter, colour and SPECTACLE you can’t beat Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until 12th January.
The bones of the traditional story are here – Robinson, Man Friday, pirates, etc – but this version (by Brian Conley and Michael Harrison) is all about spontaneous comedy, big production numbers and special effects, delivered in a way that really does delight all ages and tastes.
From Lesley Joseph’s spry Enchantress of the Deep, flying in on a Birth of Venus seashell, to the latest technology that brings not only the detail of the dame’s eyelashes but the faces of the chosen in the auditorium onto the BIG screen, the fun never flags.
Michael Harrison directs Brian Conley as Robinson, and the great all-rounder might seem a tad old for the role, but as long as he can do it all (and, judging by the number of corpses on stage on Tuesday, without telling the rest of the company what he’s going to do next) he is sensational value.
Andrew Ryan is a dame of the old school, a plain Northern man dressed in the most outrageous costumes you can imagine, performing the old routines with perfect timing and such chutzpah … wonderful, and what a fairy cake!
Leon Lopez is a Friday to be drooled over (as Dorien discovered) and Gavin Woods is a charismatic Blackheart the Pirate, when he’s allowed by the irrepressible Conley.
Throw in The Mazeppa Cossack dancers, cleverly chosen and vigorously played music by the five piece orchestra under George Dyer, and special effects that will have the smaller theatres despairing, and you have a pantomime for everyone this Christmas.
And I suspect if you go more than once, you will see different antics from Robinson every night. Must be a nightmare for the rest of the cast, but side-splittingly funny for the audience.
Oh, and well done Karen and Brian, and the lovely little girl who sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star all on her own on that vast stage.