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Anvil - Dick Whittington and his Cat

This is the NWN review.

Not so funny for grown-ups

DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT, at The Anvil, until January 7

The Proper Pantomime Company returns to The Anvil this Yuletide season for the fourth year running, serving up a colourful interpretation of Dick Whittington.

The audience seemed to enjoy this first night performance - my four-year-old niece Amy certainly did, but I found it a little lacking - and I usually love this kitsch ritualistic festive fayre. I think I have been spoilt by the excellent rival pantos put on at Newbury's Corn Exchange.

Dick Whittington (Ana Boulter) was as gorgeous as she was captivating, showing bright optimism in the face of adversity as wicked spells were dished out a-plenty to poor Dick by the evil King Rat, splendidly played by Arthur Bostrum.

The chorus was excellent, coupled with children of all ages dancing in some of the larger epic scenes, together they created some stunning moments. The colourful fair scene when Dick first arrives to London, the dramatic storm scene aboard HMS Saucy Sal and the exquisite and glamorous Sultan's palace were all brought to life by well-crafted choreography and singing. It was a shade unfortunate that the best scenes relied on material from the much-loved Lionel Bart's Oliver.

The rapport between Dick and Tom the Cat built steadily through the show, to the extent that many children were genuinely worried when for a time it seemed that the adorable pussy was lost at sea.

Sally the Cook, played by television actor Rodney Bewes, was sadly miscast. The actor made famous for his role as the dry, indecisive and dull Bob in the Likely Lads brought the same qualities to what should be the showstealing pantomime Dame role. This was made worse by his voice which was not in good shape and at times difficult to follow. It just goes to show that you can't put a celebrity in a frock and expect people to laugh. Good comedy is much more serious than that! To he fair the Dame was not helped by the script, which lacked any really good camp jokes.

A good pantomime is, I think much harder to pull off than we probably realise, when all the elements are in place this strange art form works on two distinct levels leaving adults and children laughing for more. Sadly, only the children found this performance irresistibly funny.