This year’s panto spectacular follows the usual pattern: ear-splitting music, lighting which burns your eyeballs with its in-your-face intensity, and one sparkly production number after another. It is occasionally droll, rarely hugely funny and it all moves with the breathless speed of a high octane car race.
Occasionally Snow White herself appears (Danielle Hope, in a Disney cartoon version frock) and meets her Prince (the all-singing, all-dancing John Partridge) and the old fairy tale flickers into life for a few moments, and then disappears again as the leading performers present themselves and their speciality acts.
But hey, it’s panto-land, where the Magic Mirror becomes more Man In The Moon than anything else.
In this instance it’s Gok Wan as the face behind the looking glass.
Mr Wan descends to the stage from a travelling silvery mirror frame, steps out and simply carries on a debate with the Wicked Queen ( the delicious Stephanie Beacham looking marvellously evil in heavily-spiked almost Gothic millinery and luscious gold lame outfits) thus determining her ratings in the best-looking women charts.
Frankly, I prefer the mirrors of yesteryear, where a misty, wraith-like presence slowly took shape as the wicked queen uttered the immortal words: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all...”
But I expect Gok Wan receives a pretty hefty fee for his appearance and the production company need to see a return for their outlay and so the spirit of the mirror becomes flesh and blood like everyone else, the magic goes out through the back door, and Mr Wan joins in the company knees-up.
Paul Zerdin is a constant delight with a charming puppet and makes a continual appearance throughout the evening, although the directors of this show do not ask Mr Zerdin to do anything we haven’t seen before.
Gary Wilmot bustles around as Nurse Crumble and sets off straight away with farting manoeuvres which may make some people laugh but equally may cause the judicious to grieve. But Mr Wilmot is a seasoned performer and comfortably at home in the general mayhem, as is John Partridge’s bouncy Prince John (no, not that Prince John – he’s the villain in Robin Hood) .
The title on the playbills should really read, “Snow White and the Seven Actors on their Knees”. Once again dwarfs have been left out and I cannot see why. The little men need work at Christmas and the public expects to see them. Instead we get seven full -grown actors shuffling round the stage on their knees, which are hopefully heavily padded.
Still, the essential message is clear – middle-aged queens should keep their hands off handsome princes or be prepared to accept the consequences.
Until February 2.