When the Fairy Princess is the Sphinx, the villain is a Pharoah and Cleopatra is the sought-after maiden, pantomime has clearly taken on a challenging new perspective.
However, Little Common-based Bright Lights Theatre Company revel in new challenges. Last year’s early-season offering took audiences to the Wild West via the creative pen of Rich Lock. That success has now encouraged them to tackle Rich’s innovative A Panto Between the Pyramids.
Did it work? Yes it did! Thanks to director Jo Webster’s skill and the Bright Lights company’s joy in creating rumbustious fun, audiences leaving the diminutive Little Common Methodist Church Hall were rocking with laughter.
The setting may have been ancient Egypt but every ‘He’s behind you’ element of the traditional British panto was exploited to the full.
Burly Neil Trimby revelled in his cross-dressing debut; his Dame Donna Kebab contrasting wonderfully with Brad McNaughton’s Frank Spencer-like interpretation of side-kick Archie Ologist.
Oh, a pun my word, there was plenty of word-play. Luke Webster was the embodiment of evil as Pharoah Roche (cue chocolate box puns aplenty), ably assisted by Josh King as the inept Scarab. Kate West was a captivating Cleo to muscular suitor Niles, played by Liam Patrick.
Assisted by the cops Toot and Karmoon (Lynn Riggs and Marie Rayner), Pharoah Roche was running a lucrative protection racket, bleeding the locals dry in return for ‘saving’ them from the fictional threat posed by the Mummy (a heavily-bandaged but wonderfully effective Sofi Heyes).
Even with the aid of the delightfully impish Sphinx Debs Bligh, could Dame Donna’s incompetent forces for good overcome Roche’s evil?
Niles and Cleo were in love but could they overcome the opposition of Cleo’s father, the wealthy Mustafa Wedgie?
Dick Coomber’s grip on the Wedgie purse-strings was a memorable gem as was the scene with Sally Gander as the ‘body’ awaiting embalming by Dame Donna Kebab and Scarab.
But there were so many mirth-filled moments in a production sustained joyously by a cast, which also included Sue Hughes, Sofi Heyes, Sally Gander and Pete Riggs in the chorus, assisted by Annalise King who also under-studied husband Josh effectively in Thursday evening’s second half.
The finale musical number was Reach for the Stars.
And, yet again, Bright Lights had.
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