Theatr Clwyd production
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
November 24, 2022- January 14, 2023; approx 2hr 10min
"Do I give this five stars or only four and a half?" I casually ask Clwyd's executive director Liam Evans-Ford.
“Give it five," he says. "You weren't called up to be ritually humiliated by the pantomime dame, were you?” He has a point; no one wants that. Five it is.
This is an excellent pantomime. It fulfils all one's expectations of a traditional panto (even though billed as a "rock 'n' roll" panto) and includes a great music set - as so many productions do.
In fact the songs this year are, if anything, a little less prominent than in previous years, while the range remains varied and imaginative, setting the tone for all aspects of the show.
In what may be the swansong for director Tamara Harvey before she departs for the RSC, this panto incorporates all the elements needed in a good panto, then gaves them a twist.
The leads, Connor Going and Celia Cruwys-Finnigan as Robin and Marion, do a decent job, but the show-stoppers are the dame (Phylip Harries) and Little John (Daniel Lloyd).
These two are veterans of the Theatr Clwyd panto and have built strong fan clubs of their own. This production uses them to excellent effect: the scene in which they swapped song titles to tell Robin Hood that he loved Maid Marion was clever, memorable and funny.
The production plays around with traditional stereotypes. Maid Marion is no simpering princess but a forthright, at times aggressive, personality. The villain - the Sherriff of Flintshire (Ben Locke) - is camp and dressed in white with a feather boa rather than a devilish black. The panto fairy (Chioma Uma) is Jolly Goodfellow, a woodland sprite dressed in rainbow colours - with no trace of a pink tutu or wand in sight.
Do these elements spoil the panto? Not at all, it's an excellent, thoroughly engaging, night’s entertainment.
The audience warmed to the cast quickly and left the theatre stuffed with feelgood factor. There's lots more Christmas panto cheer to come in Mold.
Info and tickets here