Situated in a fantastic West London location, not far from the West End, the Lyric Hammersmith is a classic nineteenth century London theatre with a quintessential proscenium design, and with a vibrant programme. Recently, the Lyric Hammersmith has been well-known for its many productions catering for younger people. They are particularly famous for their annual Christmas pantomime, and this year it is an adapted version of ‘Dick Whittington and his Cat.’
The pantomime this year is a major adaptation to the original story. The plot-line is more complex than some of the other pantomimes in London, and brought a pleasant change compared to some other Pantos which have a very dry and baseless synopsis. The story is essentially about a group of evil rats, led by Queen Rat, who want to take over the City of London by winning a mayoral election. However, Sooz (Dick Whittington’s fiancée) along with Dick himself and his cat, try to stop the evil rats taking over the City by running for mayor themselves.
Since the synopsis of the play was based around politics and a mayoral election, you might expect political satire to be commonplace, especially in the style of a pantomime. However, we felt that the satirical humour was slightly lacking, with only one or two jokes about current affairs and politics.
However, the production is very entertaining. The music is particularly fun and dynamic and that made the pantomime that extra bit more colourful and polished. The main characters were also very impressive, particularly Andy Rush playing Dick; Delroy Atkinson the Cat and Aretha Ayeh as Sooz. In many other pantomimes, the main characters are sometimes overshadowed by the more amusing characters like the Dames; however, in this show, all characters were equally entertaining. Kudos also to the young ensemble, who are also very effective in their rolling duties.
We were a bit disappointed in one character. For us, Nigel Betts lacked the physicality we’d expect to see from a pantomime dame.
Nevertheless, we highly recommend anyone, young or old, to book tickets for Dick Whittington at the Lyric as a festive treat, and go and watch this thoroughly congenial pantomime, which you will be sure to enjoy.