Rude, raucous, and ruddy hilarious. That’s what audiences should expect when entering the wonderful world of Liverpool Royal Court’s Scouse Dick Whittington. Well, that and every conceivable phallic joke writer Kevin Fearon could squeeze in to the two hour spectacle. All the published marketing brands this annual festive treat as a Christmas Show and it’s clear why. Pantomimes tend to get a bad rap, certainly in an increasingly snobbish theatre landscape, but this is not the reason – it’s because this is so much more than a Panto (Insert joke about M&S adverts here!). Scouse Dick Whittington takes the audience on a journey from Liverpool to Vienna and back again, following Dick and accomplices as they aim to protect the Liverpool Mayorship from criminal mastermind King Rat.
It’s hard to pick favourites when considering this exceptional cast and let’s be clear, these are not your average regional pantomime performers. Ably led by Adam McCoy as Dick Head (no, I’m not joking…), his charisma and stunning voice come to the forefront during 80’s classics “Here I Go Again” and “Vienna” – just a small sample of the musical delights on show. Complementing McCoy’s performance whilst adding much-needed class and chemistry to proceedings is Hayley Sheen as Alice. Her stand-out moment comes during a particularly hilarious rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” – close your eyes and you’d swear it was Celine herself up there.
The double act of Lindzi Germain as Holly Head and Liam Tobin as Bradley Fitzwarren provide the best of the gags with Germain cementing us firmly in Scouse-land with sass in abundance. Two true pros, each had the audience in the palm of their hand. Cutting and side-splitting scouse one-liners are the Christmas Gift delivered by Jamie Clarke in her portrayal of Dick’s Cat. In what could have been a character that faded into the background amongst huge personalities, Clarke grabbed the cat by its tail and owned the stage.
Musically strong throughout, this fact was never more certain than when the three Ratettes took to the stage, belting effortlessly in perfect harmony. Emma-Grace Arends, Emma Bispham and Paige Fenlon treat the audience to a healthy dose of soul. As their master, King Rat, Andrew Schofield dutifully offered up the villain, though the audience didn’t seem bothered enough to boo.
Act two brings a couple of nicely arrange musical theatre classics, one an entirely surreal version of a number from The Sound of Music. Both seemed to be firm audience favourites of the night. Musical Direction by Howard Gray was jovial but packed a punch when required. Set Design by Olivia Du Monceau was festive and functional and didn’t hinder the performers or script. Ian Scott’s Lighting Design was unnoticeable in the whole, which is a good thing, yet provided the special moments that all great Pantos, sorry – Christmas Shows, should have. The minor technical glitches can be forgiven this early in the run – those problems tend to iron themselves out with more practice.
If you’re looking for substance of storyline then go and see some Shakespeare, this is not the show for you. But if you’re after a night where you do not stop laughing for two hours straight whilst being thrilled and entertained with brilliant music, expertly performed by a stellar cast, then a night at Liverpool’s Royal Court is certainly in order. This is a show that knows exactly what it is and delivers in abundance.
Scouse Dick Whittington Runs at Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool until 20th January. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Jason Roberts Photography