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Compton Players - Bobby Shaftoe

10th to 12th November 2011.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Yo ho ho...

Compton Players: Bobby Shaftoe, at The Coronation Hall, Compton, from Thursday, November 10 to Saturday, November 12

There are two types of pirates: bad and very, very bad. According to Dave Hawkins’ clever and very entertaining pantomime Bobby Shaftoe, that is.

Getting the balance right in an original script is challenging (I know, having dabbled in a past life) but this production was chockfull of good ideas, traditional and quirky comedy and lots of swashbuckling action - to please children and adults alike. It was a little thin musically, and the pace dipped a couple of times, but with a host of colourful and well-played characters, local and topical references it all kept it rolling along to a delighted Friday night audience.

In a rousing opening chorus of There is Nothing Like a Dame, we were introduced to Mother Oakham, played by Andy Nunn in a rather laidback and understated style, but nonetheless connecting with the audience charmingly and with loads of jolly quips.

Mark Bailey as the very, very bad pirate, Black Bob Spinnaker, with a penchant for gizzards, had tremendous presence and balanced his evil streak with a deft touch of comedy. Lauren Adams as Polly Oakham, turned in a winning and sterling performance and Naomi Read confidently struck just the right notes as the eponymous hero Bobby Shaftoe.

With a named cast list of some 23 characters I can only commend the players for the way in some of their seasoned actors took on small roles - but this added to the strength of the production - giving a whole host of lovely characterisations.

Among the many performances I enjoyed, and there were many, was Rob Bell (Purser), Ian Hickling (Squatting Octopus), Hannah Belton (Princess Flo) and Charlie East (Ben Gnu) - not forgetting the Gorilla, Daisy the Cow and the beautiful mermaid - the list should go on.

With good production values, including, four terrific sets and great costumes, this was a heart warming production that ticked all the boxes for a village pantomime, congratulations to producers Eric Saxton and Dave Hawkins.