"C'mon Ratty, do your worst.. for you'll soon be ratatouille!" Yes, it's with immortal lines like these that you know the panto season is well and truly underway as our hero Dick Whittington confronts dastardly King Rat on the streets of old London town. With just his loyal friend Tommy the cat for company, and armed only with his own unwavering integrity, can Dick manage to save the capital from rat infestation? With a little pinch of history, a liberal dose of humour and a few contemporary quips for adult consumption, Kenn Oldfield's endearing pantomime, more gently playful than side-splitting, rolls into town.
It makes a welcome change to see a panto based on a real character and the show preserves authenticity with the name of Dick Whittington's real-life sweetheart Alice Fitzwarren, the only historical deviation being her uncle's change of surname from Fitzwarren to Foxwarren in honour of thespian Basil Brush! John Inman, cast as panto dame Wanda the cook, is incapacitated at the moment due to ill-health, so it's much to the credit of Malcolm Lord that he takes over the role with such savoir faire, playing the man-eating cook with palpable relish. His corny gags and series of gravity-defying outfits continue the grand tradition of a truly toe-curling dame, aided and abetted by cohorts Winkle the mate and the lofty Alderman Foxwarren, none other than our beloved Basil Brush who seems to have mellowed in his prime. Elsewhere, Luke Baxter as the sardonic, black-clad King Rat steals every scene with consummate ease.
With the usual blend of song and dance (given a pop makeover) plus the vocal power of lead Chris Pizzey as an exuberant Dick Whittington and Jay Webb as his feline friend, Richmond's panto promises lots of seasonal cheer for everyone.