True Love and Rats: Dick Whittington

One thing about panto – it’s adaptable and each version reflects currently topical fads and fashions. It’s more flexible than a rubber-band that’s been stretched between the roadworks and the Metrolink’s future arrival on Union Street.

In the Coliseum’s 2011 production Dick Whittington still becomes Mayor of London and still has a Cat.
Then we got:
A Russell Brand-ish King Rat who’s who wants to rule London, the World, the Univeeerse! Lots of Singing and Dancing. Thigh Slapping. Cartoon Sound Effects. Audience Interaction. Kids. Plug-in references to anything and everything topical. Song. Good Ship Metrolink. Dance. Lots of Audience Interaction with Kids. Shipwreck. A song about Cucumber. Spinning Sultana of Morocco. More song and dance. Knockabout comedy in a bakery with buckets of messy, squidgy cream. Storybook-Illustration sets with some nice lighting reveals. Food-Related Costumes that put Lady Gaga to shame – When did you last watch a show with a character dressed as a portion of fish and chips…really.

Innocence and true love are found and thwarted when Dick is drugged and framed for robbing Alderman Fitzwarren of London’s safe – by Silly “No I’m not – I’m Captain” Billy, hypnotised by the Rat.

Finally ending Happily Ever After with newly enriched Dick (by the Sultana of Morocco for saving her from the King Rat), with Dick (played by a girl) marrying the Fitzwarren’s daughter Alice – and Alderman Fitzwarren marrying Billy’s Mum the ironic fourth-wall-breaking comedy commentator and food-themed costume wearing Saucy Sarah Suet (played by a bloke).

Oh – and Billy is indeed promoted to Captain.

That’s Panto.

What we didn’t got: “Turn Again Dick Whittington”, Boris Johnson (who is not a pantomime character)

Pictures courtesy Oldham Coliseum

Dick Whittington is playing at the Coliseum until Jan 14