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Silchester Players - Puss in Boots

24th January to 1st February 2003.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Cat's-eye view of pantomime

SILCHESTER PLAYERS: 'PUSS IN BOOTS OR THEREBY HANGS A TAIL', at Silchester village hall, on Friday, January 24, Saturday, January 25, Friday, January 31, and Saturday, February 1

Although panto may have come and gone this year on the professional theatre circuit, it is still doing the business in the villages the length and breadth of our shires.

Silchester Players are currently presenting 'Puss in Boots Or Thereby Hangs a Tail', a gorgeously staged version to delight the eye. The script however, while telling the story well, left us wanting, with many characters failing to develop, especially the Dame, the good and bad fairies and Ognog the ogre. That said, the enthusiastic cast grabbed all the opportunities to present a lively piece of theatre, and it was good to see many youngsters in the supporting roles, giving the show a real community feel.

Janet Taylor gave good value as the scatty Fidelia and her opposite in magic, Maligna, was played in fine Gothic dominatrix style by Caroline Norton, complete with whip!

Sarah Oliver as Colin and Hayley Fitton as Petra were charming and refreshingly sincere in the principal boy/girl roles. John Coffin as Marcia Mallow, the palace confectioner made us all laugh and Nicola Bratt as the eponymous hero aka Montmorency, showed great presence and flair. Tony Oliver and Jill Hutchings brought a fine sense of the ridiculous and comedy to their roles of King Percival and Queen Prudence and Darren Lerigo and Jessica Miller turned in strong and notable performances as Harry and Abigail.

Chorus work was well rehearsed and choreographed by Hayley Fitton, and despite my previous criticism of the script, director Brian Gillet had created a charming escapist atmosphere with great sincerity and devoid of sometimes distracting trendy gimmicks.

All this was backed up by lively music from Stephen Oliver, beautiful fairy-tale sets from Kevin Belcher and crew, colourful costumes, good lighting, and amazingly silent scene changes. As always, great entertainment and good value from Silchester Players.