Writer: Alan McHugh
Director: Christian Patterson
Sometimes you know what you’re going to get from a story when you book to see a pantomime. However, that’s not quite the case at the Regent Theatre.
Christian Patterson and Jonathon Wilkes are well known faces around Stoke. So much so, there was a huge outcry when they were missing from the annual pantomime. It’s clear the audience like them and that many people book year after year to see them. Patterson and Wilkes have a great connection with each other and the local area which is they display through their local references that keep on coming throughout this panto.
On the whole, the comedy is great, a mix of classic panto double entendre and slapstick humour. Patterson and Wilkes recreating Stavros Flatley is a highlight of the show. However, there are a number of moments when the comedy is a bit uncomfortable, particularly for young kids. Wilkes advising a male audience member to check out the female ensemble changing, as he exits the stage didn’t feel appropriate and neither did him shouting ‘you fat cow’ while referencing a song he wrote about an ex-girlfriend.
As so much of this panto is about Wilke and Cristian’s comedy duo, little time is left for the story. Instead of a Prince slaying the Dragon, Wilkes’ character Muddles is given a more prominent role and the Prince is never to be seen in the way you’d expect. Instead of a Dragon, a huge sea monster-like creature guards Carabosse’s layer. There is no time to slay this monster either as Muddles and Fanny the Nanny appear to slip straight past it and the guards during the interval.
This being said there are some nice tweaks to the plot made by McHugh , such as switching the role of a fairy to Chi Chi, the Spirit of Stoke. Delme Thomas creates a camp and friendly narrator who you can’t help but warm too. Chi Chi’s character also brings some fresh moments to the production too.
This panto does have a strong baddie with Vivien Parry as Carabosse. Parry’s bellowing tone echoes around the Regent’s auditorium as she plans how Princess Beauty will never get her happily ever after. Parry has a great musical voice and belts out her two musical numbers with ease.
It is also nice to see that this panto gives the chance to past and present students of the Wilkes Academy of Performing Arts to shine on a professional stage. The ensemble put a huge amount of energy into the full cast numbers and light up the stage.
What you want from a panto will be key to whether you enjoy this one. If you want a nice fairytale story then this production doesn’t quite hit the mark. However, if you want an afternoon of laughs and seeing a duo have the time of their life on the stage, then you, like many of the adults in the audience today, will have a good afternoon out.
* Decision based on a ticket price of £24.50. For more info on this value for money rating please visit here: Introducing a new kind of rating