Theatre Royal Windsor (venue)
07 December 2021 (released)
08 December 2021
We all need an injection of infectious fun in this of all years. It may be marmite, but does anything scream ‘fun’ louder than Panto? Oh no it doesn’t, oh yes it does! My companion for the evening was my studiously jaded teenage daughter and you know it’s weaving it’s magic when even she is giggling along with eyes as wide and bright as if she was still five. Being out on a chilly wet school night didn’t dampen the high spirits of the energetic young audience who were keen and ready to take part in everything from loud clapping and laughing uproariously to yelling out the traditional stage instructions. I’m sure I heard plenty of parents whooping and shouting out too, especially after a quick interval libation to lubricate the vocal chords.
You know you’re in for a treat with the reliable double act of Windsor’s resident Dame and Panto script writer, Steven Blakeley and Martin Cabble-Reid as Kevin Cruise. They’ve been entertaining the Christmas crowds in Windsor for over a decade together. There’s the comforting blend of well-known tropes spiced with topical jokes; silliness for the kids and naughty asides for the adults. Panto may be formulaic but it’s a formula full of affection and the family feeling is widened to embrace the whole auditorium. It’s the theatrical equivalent of getting a great big bear hug with huge sparkly jazz hands thrown in.
The relative newcomers, Jay Worley as the eponymous Jack and Alice Fillary as his fresh faced love interest, Jill, are energetic and enthusiastic sweethearts. The brilliant array of costumes, lighting and stage sets are the colourful shiny spectacle you’ll want from a warming winter show. The playful choreography and upbeat musical score hit just the right note with old numbers, new hits and reworded lyrics, a real mixed bag of something for everyone. For Windsor regulars, the much loved “12 days of Christmas” is as raucously funny and chaotic as ever. How they keep hold of that big red bra for every verse after throwing it back into the audience each time it touches the stage is a mystery.
Last year, they’d just got started and then had to cancel the run as theatres across the UK shut down again during the second lockdown. This year, everyone, from the cast to the crowd, feels genuinely delighted to be there. Go along and celebrate this fruity slice of festive joy.
Showing until Sunday 9th January.