When you settle down to watch a panto at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre, you just know it’s not going to be a typical “he’s behind you” kind of show. You’re only going to take your grandma if she’s very broad-minded, and you are defo going to leave the kids at home watching CBeebies.
Having characters like Dick Head, Helmut Shine, and Bradley Fitzwarren, joining the Cat, King Rat and the Fairy, left writer Kevin Fearon ample opportunity for smut and innuendo.
The plot very loosely follows the traditional premise of young Dick (played by Adam McCoy) striving to become Mayor. Not so much to preside over the gold-paved streets of London, more the rat-infested roads of Liverpool, and he is on a mission to wrest the city from the clutches of the evil King Rat, who is brought to life on stage by the inimitable Andrew Schofield.
Dick’s companion pussy is portrayed by a delightfully feline Jamie Clarke, whose sister Hayley Sheen takes the part of the lovely Alice. The protagonist’s seemingly impossible mission is brought closer to fruition thanks to the dusting of magic sprinkled from the wand of the green-haired Fairy, played by Paige Fenlon.
As is tradition at this fabulous theatre, the band is on stage throughout, with four talented musicians providing the energetic backing for the cast’s fabulous vocals, many of which could earn a “golden buzzer” in any TV talent show. Notably, the sweet mellifluous tones of siblings Hayley and Jamie, and the wonderfully omnipotent voice of Lindzi Germain, who plays Dick’s larger-than-life mother, Holly Head.
One-liners come thick and fast, laced with double-entendre and innuendo. It’s comedy in the very best Royal Court tradition, and the audience loves it. Liam Tobin delivers wonderfully caustic quips as he portrays both Bradley Fitzwarren and none other than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
There are so many stand-out moments, one of the most memorable being where Dick puts so much feeling into his heartfelt reprise of the famous Titanic “I’m Flying” scene while keeping abreast of the panto’s storyline.
Honestly, I can’t praise this show enough, from Keven Fearon’s script, brought to life by director Mark Chatterton and presented to perfection by the talented cast, to the score compiled by musical director Howard Gray, skilfully performed by Greg Joy, Chris Nicholls, Mike Woodvine, and the most animated keyboard player you’ll ever see, “Bouncing” Ben Gladwin.
“The Scouse Dick Whittington” deserves a solid FIVE STARS from me, and if you don’t make an effort to go and see it, you’ll be missing out on the best adult panto of the year. It runs until the 27th of January, and you can purchase tickets from the Royal Court Box Office.