Six pantomimes in 70 hilarious, hectic minutes in Potted Panto
Returning for its umpteenth year but into the proper West End and really welcome, not least because of the cancellation of so many regional pantomimes, is Dan and Jeff’s Potted Panto. Nica Burns, Bravo Nica! is opening her NIMAX theatres with Covid precautions and the impact on profits, or should I say losses, of drastically reduced seating.
Potted Panto is the perfect family panto, all the ingredients of the family show without too much smut which might offend a strict grandparent. The advantage of Potted Panto is that you don’t have to choose which pantomime to see as six are condensed here in 70 minutes for those of us with ADHD!
Long, lanky Dan (Daniel Clarkson) and controlling Jeff (Jefferson Turner) explain the concept and argue about the details. We start with Jack and the Beanstalk with Dan’s interpretation of a title character being an ornate, lengthy green tube of a sprouting beanstalk. As an audience member you may well be several steps ahead of the actors on the punchline but hey, it feels good to be proved right! Jack’s mother’s costume might well be stolen from the drag show Death Drop also running at the Garrick. Gosh those dressing rooms must be crowded with Showstoppers on there as well! I’m due to see all three this week.
Dick Whittington is a crowd pleaser with a tousled, blonde wigged Borisalike (Jeff) as future (or indeed past) mayor of London. Cue some political satire. I’d like to see the version with Sadiq Khan. Thence to Sleeping Beauty and I loved the procession of puppet fairies played with a human head, a mini fairy outfit and rodded arms. Sleeping Beauty gets pied and we wonder who has been sniffing the Nitrous Oxide from the aerator bulbs for whipped cream? That must have been a giggle!
Cinderella will charm and, stealing from their condensed Harry Potter show, the Fairy Godchicken will wield “une baguette magique” the delightful French name for a wand and of course the one here is a real baguette with Christmas star. The ugly sisters are a human plus one attached cardboard one, in ball dresses. This is the second appearance of the handsome prince (Dan) who is a posh Royal.
Snow White is spoken in Rhyme and the cut out dwarves manage to break the rule of six. Two rappers embellish. Finally Aladdin is played with Aladdin in a pantomimic fusion with A Christmas Carol which was almost bizarre. There is a shotgun wedding as Prince Charming is charged with killing Abanazar. The cast of two work amazingly hard and the costume changes are fast and furiously mind boggling.
The socially distanced seats reduce the noise levels of children screaming and audience participation but remembering all those exhortations not to annoy audience members with switched on mobile phones? Be aware that the theatre is selling spinning rainbow coloured torches or baguettes magiques. These are twirled constantly by children and the effect was like a multi-coloured, continuous pulsating strobe in my left eye. Next time I’ll wear an eyepatch borrowed from Peter Pan. Bah humbug!
Written by Daniel Clarkson, Jefferson Turner and Richard Hurst
Directed by Richard Hurst
ASM Actors Charlotte Payne and Jacob Jackson
Director: Richard Hurst
Set Designer: Simon Scullion
Costume Designer: Nicky Bunch
Sound Designer: Tom Lishman, Leigh Davies
Composer: Phil Innes
Running Time: 70 minutes
Booking to 10th January 2021
The Garrick Theatre
2 Charing Cross Road
London WC1H 0HH
Telephone: 0330 333 4811
Rail/Tube: Charing Cross
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the Garrick
on 6th December 2020