Pantomime Review – Goody Two Shoes

December 4, 2009 | By | Reply More

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St Serf’s
Review by Thom Dibdin
Packed with groan-worthy puns, outrageous jokes and great songs, St Serf’s Players’ Goody Two Shoes easily does enough to provide the basis for a night of panto fun.

There’s room in Paul Reakes’ off-the-peg script for plenty of local references – and even a topical gag. And while the storyline steps away from the usual fare, it provides all the necessary elements that go to make a pantomime successful.

Good fights evil in the magical world, as a nice Elf Cobbler (Sameena Wright) is forced to mend sinister sorceress Septica (Phyllis Ross)’s best and most comfortable pair of magic shoes. There are bumbling henchmen, Rolo (Lee Sheddon) and Polo (Rona Arnott) – who allow the shoes to be stolen.

In the human world there’s the lovely – and aptly named – Goody (Fredericka McKinstrie), who finds the shoes and inadvertently uses their magic. There’s even a thigh-slapping principal boy in Alison Carcas’ Simon – although Goody’s mum Molly Coddle is played by Dorsay Larnach, rather than as a conventional dame.

Human wickedness comes in the form of Titus Tightwad, the miserly landlord about to evict the Coddles, played by Liz Grant. But the really vile piece of work is his niece Cissie, who Vicki Horne makes the most hissable villain of the lot. Not that Goody’s dim brother Teddy minds, he’s in love with her, big style.

Despite having all the necessary equipment at their disposal, however, the Players contrive to make very heavy weather of it.

Where it should zing from one scene to the next, there is a distinct lack of urgency from several of the performers. Ross, in particular, needs to get on with it. She has plenty of villainy to give to her grimacing, hobbling Septica, but the long wait before she deigns to deliver her lines can become numbing.

There is also a certain tendency from several of the company to act as if the lines should get the appropriate applause, groans or boos all on their own. Performers have earn their audience reaction and if you don’t act as if you deserve it, it isn’t going to come.

Grant’s Tightwad certainly does villainous things, but you never believe she is a villain, in herself. Similarly for Sheddon and Arnott, there is just too much hesitancy about them. They could afford to open up and make their Polo and Rolo big and voluptuous. Panto is the one part of performance where overacting is a positive asset.

There can be no faulting Larnach’s effort when it comes to taking on the dame role, of Molly Coddle. She delivers all the classic dame lines and double-entendres with great understanding. But while it is preferable to see a good actress in the role rather than an underpowered actor, somehow those lines just aren’t as funny when they are not delivered by a lad in a frock.

One actress who doesn’t hold back is Vicki Horne, who has great fun as lisping Cissie, with a horrid taste in clothes and a teenage taste in tantrums. She earns every one of her boos and hisses, while never trying to upstage any of her less confident colleagues.

Curiously for a show written in 2007, the song choice seems stuck in the late Seventies. Bontempi-backed versions of I’d Like Teach the World to Sing, Tragedy and You’re The One That I Want set the tone. While they drive the plot forward, they play to that section of the audience who remember the originals and are going to be determined to have a good time, come what may.

The whole production would benefit from a sprinkling of terms of this year’s hits – and references to them – for the younger audience members who are there to be entertained. The one X-Factor reference that is there makes the audience visibly sit up and take note. More such would help bring them in to the show.

A good effort, though, which could really fly if the cast were to loosen up and let rip.

Run ends Saturday

St Serf’s Players website.

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