Review – T Rymer NODA – Jan 2011
He’s back! Anthony Bunting has returned to the nest this year as Mother Goose and Loddon can really thank their lucky stars and he IS a real star.
The reception from the audience on his entrance was quite something and I also felt assured that the frock was once again being worn with pride and of course that ubiquitous laid back style topped off by a laconic Norfolk accent and some lovely facials – I think he enjoyed it as much as we did.
And this year the supporting cast were equally strong. If anything there were almost too many characters.
The introduction of Demon Discontent (Daniel Bird) gave a great ‘baddy’ performance relishing in the boos and hisses he elicited.
Equally countered by ‘goody’ Fairy Light (Ami Reynolds) enchanting in style and costume as they battled to prevent the big bully landlord Sir Roderick (Ian Fulcher) with ‘assistance’ from a pair of hapless hooligans Bill and Ben (Luke Jermy and Matthew Moore) who did their best to make sure it all went wrong – some excellent comedy moments from this pair.
Sam (Graham Orpet) and Sue (Shula Howard) had some nice moments and audience interaction – not always scripted but not a ukulele in sight! (shame).
Maud (Maureen Larkin) was of course her usual amiable self with her own brand of low key local comedy as she vied with Ivor Buggy (Mel Frankland) had an answer to every retail needs that may arise and his running gag as salesman extraordinaire was a nice touch.
Townie relatives Gladys (Carolyn Dover) and dozy son Toastie (Christian Lovick) were also well portrayed and we liked his ‘posh’ accent and extravagant language which clearly bamboozled everyone – including the audience! (only kidding).
We get this far and only now introduce our Principal Boy Jack (Emily Johnston) who looked terrific and had good stage presence with traditional style and even a thigh slap (only one – could have had more) She had a lovely singing voice and was well impressed with Chloe (Ruby Bardwell-Dix) who proved a worthy partner in both the love stakes and singing department – a lovely rendition of a specially composed song – Chloe’s Lament (Words: Emily Johnston, Music: Alan Cant).
This pair and others were I fear victims of the over large cast as so little was possible as aspects of the plot were spread around without real development of a core theme – even then the show ran to nearly three hours – too long for a panto.
Another ‘victim of this was Scarecrow (Howard Dover) whose main claim to fame was his incredible static position upstage throughout the whole of the first scene (at least 20mins). He should have made a more dramatic awakening as his promise to help when needed was hardly needed and his character therefore was lost as scenarios and scenes were played out for the overloaded cast.
Last year we struggled for talent – this time it was there in all departments. The Funky Feet Dancers were well drilled and had some dramatic lighting effects to compliment their super dancing.
This was a stylish panto but can you have too much of a good thing?
Sometimes home written pieces need to be tested and pruned as necessary, always difficult, but, although long, this panto flew along.
The author had some excellent ideas and used material wisely but I would counsel that ‘less is more’ (see article in NODA magazine).
None the less a high calibre show, live keyboard accompaniment, good costumes and effective technical’s – the full houses had a good night’s entertainment.
Well done and welcome back Anthony; hope to see you again next year.