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Oxford Playhouse - Puss in Boots

6th December 2002 to 12th January 2003.

This is the Newbury Weekly News review.

Costa del Panto

'PUSS IN BOOTS', at the Oxford Playhouse, until January 12

This year's traditional Christmas pantomime at the Oxford Playhouse is Paul Knight's version of Charles Perault's tale Puss In Boots', first published in 1697 in the 'First Tales of Mother Goose'.

There are many fairy tales from medieval Europe about boys who become rich because of their cats (originally 'achats' or trading for profits). The production, ably directed by Michele Hardy, is profitable in many ways. It is a hugely enjoyable satire on musicals like the Rocky Horror Show and We Will Rock You. There is a wickedly funny send-up of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' with the evil, shape-shifting, daylight-surviving vampire El Ogre (pronounced Earl Grey), camping it up something rotten. David Delve's devilish performance alone is worth the ticket price. Although the pantomime is set in Castille, it conies across as more Transylvanian.

The plot concerns poor miller's son Pablo (Rupert Ward-Lewis) and his attempts to find fortune and love, aided by his faithful Puss Y Catto (Aimee Thomas), a cat on her eighth life. Most of the comedy comes from Russell Dixon's annual
turn as the pantomime dame, Queen Juanita Leftfeeta, and Nolan Frederick and Ben Stock as Pablo's workaday brothers Costa and Brava, and haughty courtiers Vida and Loca. Kate Tydman is a pretty, occasionally squeaky Princessa Isobella. Many of the songs evoke holiday discos in Spain, and are good singalongs for the family. What did my co-reviewer, Samantha, think of 'Puss In Boots'?

"l enjoyed it. The two brothers were really silly, slapping each other like clowns. The ghouls were really funny. The Queen was funny speaking Spanish with all her slurps. All of it made you laugh. If any kid sees it they would possibly laugh a lot. I liked all of those bad jokes. The Scream masks are too scary for the little kids and too scary for my mummy! I nearly burst into tears when the cat died. There are nice costumes which are very colourful. My favourite song was 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'. The settings were as I imagined. I would give it more than 10 out of 10."