Review – Hickory Dickory Dock

December 6, 2013 | By | Reply More

✭✭✭✩✩   Chimes heartily

Alistair Brown and Philip Wilson. Photo © Gordon Hughes

Alistair Brown and Philip Wilson. Photo © Gordon Hughes

St Serf’s Church Halls
Wed 4 – Sat 6 December 2013
Review by M J Stuart

It’s a race against the clock in this year’s pantomime at St Serf’s up in Goldenacre, where the St Serf’s Players put in a fun-filled show with Hickory Dickory Dock.

Amongst the plethora of panto treats on offer around town this Christmas, Hickory Dickory Dock is one of the less well known. It’s author Norman Robbins, however, is a stalwart of the amateur scene with 22 pantomimes to his credit, including this 1979 favourite.

It’s easy to see why it is popular. Robbins script is witty and the storyline is strong, concerning penniless Dame Foxtrot, who doesn’t know her old Grandfather Clock is a magical possession. Years ago the Fairy Queen locked the wicked Black Imp into it. If the clock ever struck One the Imp would be freed, so the Queen took away the key.

All wonderfully traditional, but unfortunately it is also overly wordy. In the hands of St Serf’s experienced panto stalwarts, however, the wordiness is largely overcome, ensuring that the majority of scenes zip by.

Director Phyllis Ross has brought the story to life and her direction gives it plenty room to breathe through excellent use of the whole stage and a large cast. Given its wordiness, however, she could have looked at scaling back some of the musical and dance numbers.

All are well presented and performed but some seem superfluous to the plot. Judicious and sensitive trimming could have helped with the overall pace of the piece which – in the main – was excellent.

The costumes and the sets are a riot of colour and a huge credit to both departments. Special mention must be made of the uv scene and of lighting and sound in general which is of a very high standard.

The principals are solidly supported throughout by an enthusiastic chorus and an on-their-toes dance company. But it is in the excellent casting of the principals that the real success of this show is most evident.

Just enough of a groan factor
Mhari Campbell and Alison McCallum. Photo © Gordon Hughes

Mhari Campbell and Alison McCallum. Photo © Gordon Hughes

Phillip Wilson is first class as Dame Foxtrot. His interaction with an appreciative audience is as good as you’ll see in many a professional offering. Jack Paterson puts in a fine performance as Baron Hickory. More bungling wannabe villain than a full-blooded panto villain in the true sense, he initially gets the boo’s – before the audience almost warm to his ineptness as a certifiable villain.

In Andrew McLeod, St Serf’s have an excellent wicked Wizard, who steals the Fairy Queen’s key, frees the Imp, and seeks to destroy Fairyland by using it to get the magic Jewel of Miracles. McLeod knows how to strut his stuff, while Liz Grant as the Black Imp is impressive vocally and in her impish movement.

The Baron’s henchmen Slap (Derek Ward) and Tickle (Vicki Horne) display superb comic timing delivering the punchline of even the corniest joke with just enough of a groan factor to ensure that their silliness never becomes just that and nothing else.

There is also great work from Alistair Brown as Willie Winkle (Dame Foxtrot’s beau). His physicality in the role is a joy in itself and his ability to use a pause to great effect endears him to the audience. Charlie West and Fred McKinstrie give a good account of themselves in the tricky roles of the young romantic leads and their singing – both as a duo and individually – is credible without ever becoming soppy.

Indeed, Musical Director Pam Robertson is to be applauded for the quality and variety of the music in the show – as is choreographer Vanessa Batcharj for her stylish dance routines across a range of styles.

A traditional panto of a high standard across all departments that does not rely on the technical gimmicks and special effects wizardry of many of today’s big budget shows. It is the characters and the story which deliver the goods – and that is exactly what a good show should do.

Running time 2 hrs 20 mins
Run ends Saturday 7 December 2013
Wed 4-Fri 6, 7.30pm; Sat 6, 2pm, 6.30pm
St Serf’s Hall, 1a Clark Road, EH5 3BD
Details on the St Serf’s Players website: www.stserfsplayers.org.uk

The Cast of Hickory Dickory Dock: St Serf's Players panto 2013. Photo © St Serf's Players

The Cast of Hickory Dickory Dock: St Serf’s Players panto 2013. Photo © St Serf’s Players

ENDS

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