Dick Whittington and his cat is one of the oldest (it is reported to have been first performed in 1814) most popular and enduring British pantomimes. Hackney Empire has earned a reputation for holding London’s best pantomimes, so a great night was in store.
Dick Whittington is the story of a man who comes to London, having heard that it’s street are paved with gold, with the intention of making his name and earning his fortune. The reality is a little bit different as along the way obstacles appear and the reality, well pantomime reality (?)intervenes. For a start there are London’s rats to contend with(some things never change) including big “bad” King Rat played humourously by the pantomime villian Kat B. Amusingly and in the great tradition of pantomime he got booed by the children and parents every time he entered the stage. Dick Whittington was played very well by Joanna Riding. In time honoured panto fashion Dick was a woman playing a man’s part (no sniggering please).
The pantomime moved along at a cracking pace and was highly entertaining, thanks to its many wise cracks and gags. Other highlights included the songs, especially the renditions of recent ‘Take That’ hits. You really hear and feel the lyrics vividly, making you appreciate even more what great songs they are and just how good a song writer Gary Barlow actually is.
I noticed the packed audience seemed to be predominantly, 80%+, white, which, considering the play’s in Hackney, it was a great shame it wasn’t filled with a more diverse audience. Surely a lot more parents should be giving their children their first taste of theatre by attending pantomimes such as this one? Children love it and who knows, they may get the acting bug and aspire and work hard to become the next David Harewood or Adrian Lestor. With tickets costing from £10-£29.50 there was pricing to hopefully suit every budget, though I recognised for a large family that’s a lot of money for a family night out.
Dick Whittington and his Cat is a good, clean (well except for the dirty rats), fun show that transports you into the magic of theatre and childhood escapism.
I look forward to Hackney’s Christmas 2013 pantomime.
As a result of his excellent performance, King Rat aka Kat B, will in the running to be a nominee for ‘Best Comedian Acting’ at The Black Comedy Awards 2013. Keep an eye on this Blog for the nominations due out in February 2013.
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