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Silchester Players - Little Red Riding Hood

29th to 30th January and 5th to 6th February 2010.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Full moon does funny things in Pantovia

Silchester Players: Little Red Riding Hood, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, January 29, Saturday, January 30, Friday, January 5 and Saturday, February 6

I thought I knew most of the usual pantomime storylines pretty well, but this was definitely the first time I had seen the principal boy turn into a werewolf.

Paul Reakes' script for Little Red Riding Hood, staged by Silchester Players, gave a refreshing and highly-original twist to the fairytale. What's more, the werewolf was none other than Prince Rupert, ruler of Pantovia, and his nocturnal predicament offered the perfect excuse for his arch-opponent the Count de Cash (played to foppish perfection by Alan Moorhouse) to remove him from power for good. He was assisted in his evil plans by the fact that Pantovia "for the benefit of the plot" experienced full moons on consecutive nights.

Thankfully, the Count hadn't bargained on the wolf-loving villagers, who quickly acted to protect their young ruler.

The script offered scope for some very interesting characters, and director Tim Oliver and producer Sarah Oliver cast them well. Tony Oliver gave a fine dead-pan performance as the bowler-hatted Sternum, Janice Garrard was delightful as the reluctantly single Gertrude, while Ian Hartwell as Dame Roxie Rumple and Alec Burrell as son Reggie worked the audience with confidence and enthusiasm - the audience aerobics were a nice touch.

Brian Gillett and Clive Solomons as Cringe and Cower were in good comic form as the Count's less-than-loyal henchmen and Stacey Warner brought a touch of Catherine Tate to her portrayal of Grannie.

Laura Whiteway gave a good performance with some strong vocals as the lovesick Rosie, while Jade Saunders was well cast as the hapless prince (not forgetting his slightly scary alter ego Robbie Nicholson as the wolf - nice trick with the hankie).

The principals were well supported by the players' large and lively adult and junior choruses (choreographed by Trevor Dobson and Kim Schenklaar respectively), and the juniors' ultra-violent dance in the woods was definitely one of the highlights of the show.

Good lighting and a vibrant set added to the enjoyment of the evening. Well done all.