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Silchester Players - Hickory Dickory and the Super Bug

25th to 26th January and 1st to 2nd February 2013.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Of mice and megabytes

Silchester Players: Hickory, Dickory and the Superbug, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday January 25, Saturday January 26, Friday February 1 and Saturday February 2

First published in 1998, this modern pantomime for the computer age rounds up a fine selection of old clichés, jokes and characters, throws them all into a mixing pot and leaves the actors to make merry with them.

And Silchester Players did just that, hamming it up with the best of them, involving the large audience throughout and generally presenting two hours of great fun for youngsters of all ages.

Fairy Sundial introduced the action, played by Jill Gillett and was followed by Green Witch Meantime, (big joke!) a part that Anita Hatch relished and played to the hilt. Anita's part was the best in the panto and she made the most of it, engaging the audience, rejecting the boos and generally camping it up like an old trouper. The only slight problem, not her fault, was she was too pretty and could have benefitted from some 'ugly' makeup. Hooked nose and warts?

Little Ellie Stamp as Mouse was a delight throughout. Only tiny and with no lines to speak, her facial expressions and hand movements said it all.

Old Hickory was played by Stephen Bibby with a nice line in doddery old fellows and Brian Gillett was a lively Virus. Jo Simpson played Seedy Rom with a light touch and there were a dozen or more supporting dancers and players. Keith Graham was a typical, and very good, panto Dame, Megabite in this case and old King Cole was updated for the computer age and played as a bit of a grouch, by Clive Solomon.

The direction, by John Coffin and choreography by Trevor Dobson was excellent and the sets first-class. So, if you have youngsters, turn off the laptop and head for Silchester this weekend. Mice and megabytes, fiddlers three and an evil virus - they're all there and well worth a watch.


Review from Angela Solomons.

Evil Green Witch Meantime (Anita Hatch) wants to marry Young Hickory Dickory (Charlie Henkey) but when she is refused she extracts a terrible revenge. With the help of her Superbug, Virus (played by Brian Gillett) and his partner Seedy Rom (Jo Simpson) she kidnaps Tick and Tock (Lucy Williams and Rachel Solomons) assistants to Old Hickory, (Stephen Bibby) the official timekeeper to Old King Cole (Clive Solomons). Without them the clocks will not go and all the computers are useless. Can Fairy Sundial (Jill Gillett) Dame Megabite (Keith Graham) and Mouse (Ellie Stamp) save the day and get everything working again? And will Young Hickory get to marry his heart's desire, Princess Coleen (Ellie Morris)?

There were so many good performances in this production that it is difficult to decide amongst them! However Ellie Stamp in her first major role was delightful and was extremely popular with the audience. It is to be hoped that she will figure in future productions. Anita Hatch was suitably evil as the Witch and displayed a remarkable talent for working with the audience. Brian Gillett was exceptional in the roles of Virus and his alter ego Superbug. As Dame Megabite, Keith Graham was suitably over the top in his portrayal – a perfect pantomime dame.

Special mention must be made of the choreographers Trevor Dobson and Sarah Oliver. Sarah's interpretation of the “Time” routine with a backing track by Madonna was especially worthy of note. Finally John Coffin (Director) and Sarah Oliver (Producer) worked hard to make this such a memorable production. A most enjoyable evening.


Review from Chris Horton.

As the curtain opened we were treated to a song Everything’s Coming Up Roses performed with gusto and in colourful costumes. This opening set the mood for the whole show. The story: preparations for the New Year are underway in Old King Cole's Nursery land. Green Witch Meantime steps in with an impossible demand. When this is refused she gets her Super Bug, Virus and his partner, Seedy Rom, to help her. Tick and Tock, assistants to Old Hickory, Royal Timekeeper, without whom the clocks will not go, are kidnapped. All clocks, watches, and computers stop. With the help of Dame Megabite, Mouse, and Fairy Sundial can the New Year ever get under way? And, will Young Hickory, son of Old Hickory, marry Old King Cole’s daughter, Princess Coleen? Of course he will.

This panto, by Jim Sperinck, gave Silchester Players a chance to shine and shine they did. All the principals were excellent. The pace was slick, the songs delightfully sung and costumes as bright as Princess Coleen’s smile. Anita Hatch deserves special praise as Green Witch Meantime as does Ellie Stamp as Mouse with a succession of very sweet facial expressions. Stephen Bibby as Old Hickory Dickory was very convincing and Brian Gillett was brilliant as “the baddie” Virus. I particularly enjoyed his transformation from geeky assistant to “Super Bug” and this was done Superman style. He had the task of convincing us he was invisible which was hilarious in its ridiculousness. Keith Graham was on sparkling form as Dame Megabite in a series of exquisite gowns. This is a panto I’d not seen before and I really enjoyed it. Directed by John Coffin and produced by Sarah Oliver, this delightful modern panto (with something a little different) was one of the best I’ve seen in quite a few years.