doc

REVIEW ROBIN HOOD EASTER PANTOMIME WEYMOUTH PAVILION WE were sprayed with water and there was ritual humiliation of some members of the audience. But hey, it’s panto and it’s all part of the fun!

Mark James as Friar Tuck held the proceedings together with his madcap humour and a running ‘magic card trick’ gag involving a nonplussed Polish woman he dragged onstage and who clearly didn’t have a clue what was going on - which was amusing in itself.

As is usual in ‘modern’ pantomimes there is no semblance of a plot and tonight we had the bizarre appearance of Little Red Riding Hood, played as a simpleton with a speech impediment by Ceris Hine.

This production is extending the careers of former talent show luminaries. There was George Sampson in the lead role as Robin. He won Britain’s Got Talent nine years ago for his breakdancing. George gave us a few frenetic shapes, flailing his double-jointed pipecleaner limbs, but it all looked a bit forced. But he did perform a headspin which was pretty cool.

The evil Sheriff of Nottingham was given to another former household name Andy Abraham, the singing dustman who was runner-up on X-Factor in 2005. Fame and fortune followed his appearance. He’s still in fine voice, but wasn’t particularly good as the baddie.

His sidekick Goliath (Little John) was played with convincing charm by Craig Garner, the little man turning on his evil overlord and falling in love with Red Riding Hood to ensure a happy ending was had by all.

Panto stalwart Dani Harmer - many will remember her as Tracy Beaker - is back again on the Weymouth Pavilion stage, this time as Maid Marion. She sings and dances a bit and wears nice dresses, playing the straight role which offsets all the crazy antics going on around her.

David Phipps-Davis is the ultimate panto dame, camping it up to the max in his role as Granny. He wrote and directed the show so made sure he had the most outrageous frocks and delivered the naughtiest lines.

It wasn’t the strongest line-up of acting talent but there were plenty of laughs. My main moan is that there was too much toe-curling audience participation involving the adults. Pick on the kids guys cos they love it!

This was evident when the big fat friar brought four youngsters up on stage for the Robin Hood song near the end of the show. This resulted in some hilarious impromptu moments , especially from a belligerent six-year-old boy, who ended up almost stealing the show.

GRAHAM JAMES