"Snow White" / "The Sleeping Beauties"
Having been to see three non-traditional Christmas shows in the past few weeks (most recently, the rather magical "The Sleeping Beauties" at the Sherman Cymru, which I reviewed for the British Theatre Guide"), I thought it might be a good idea to take advantage of a break in my home town to go and see a “proper” pantomime for the first time in many, many years. Thus it was that I dragged my mother to Stoke’s Regent Theatre, to see local favourite Jonathan Wilkes in “Snow White And The Seven Dwarves”.
There was no thigh-slapping female principal boy, unfortunately, and no transvestite dame. Instead, Wilkes took centre stage as the cheeky chappie Muddles, with the more than able assistance of co-director Christian Patterson as the evil queen’s comedy henchman - probably the highlight. South Wales’ own Katie Elin-Salt was a charming Snow White, with Debbie Chapman hamming it up to great effect as Queen Morgiana. And the dwarves were all present and correct (albeit with slightly modified, non-Disney names), young Paddy Holden going down especially well.
Quite a high-tech production, too, with the speaking mirror joining us by video; and the scene-setting backdrops were beautiful. The repeated local references got a little tired at times; some one-liners were maybe too off-colour for a young audience; a few of the musical numbers did little to advance the narrative; and I could have done without some of the crowbarred-in renditions of pop songs (a little too much One Direction for my personal taste). But the ensemble danced impressively, and Wilkes was a cheerily authoritative presence. Jolly fun.
£6 for a glass of wine, though.
My principal holiday reading was “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. It’s excellent stuff, as is usual when an American author applies the emotional complexity of “literary” fiction to a genre; in this case, a crime plot of the most circuitous variety, involving a young wife who goes missing, exposing her apparently perfect marriage to public scrutiny. The film version is in the works, which it would be very easy to mess up; apparently, though, Flynn herself is writing the screenplay, which can only be a good thing.