Monty Panto and the 12(ish) Labours

Dec 5 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆      Light-hearted fun

Bedlam Theatre: Wed 29 Nov – 2 Dec 7.30pm
Review by Jon White

In Monty Panto and the 12(ish) Labours at the Bedlam, mixed messages purposefully run riot. While it is neither quite a panto nor yet a full tribute to Monty Python, it provides solid entertainment from beginning to end.

In a novel take on the labours of Hercules, the script, by director Miki Ivan and choreographer Fiona Connor, weaves together a reimagining of the nativity as an infanticide and a revisiting of Disney’s Moana’s Tomatwoa (think “shiny”, now “itchy”). The pair sprinkle humour throughout, with witty remarks linking the seemingly disparate topics of religion, Greek mythology, Physics and falafel.

Monty Panto and the 12(ish) Labours. Pic Thomas Penketh Photography

As in the age-old tales, God (Eleanor Kinnimonth) and Hera (Seamus Coyle) have a falling out over a simple game of chess. In her defeat, Hera elects to punish God by tricking Jacob Jolliffe’s gullible Zeus into destroying God’s son Jesus at the scene of his birth, the well-known nativity.

Surprisingly, Hercules (Charlie Ringrose) is blamed for the whole Nativity debacle and must repent by performing various labours and tasks; some well-known and others less so. Eventually, all is resolved by a doughnut falling from Heaven.

comic miscommunication

There is a strong theme of comic miscommunication throughout, including an overworked, yet energetic Hermes (Alice Sikora) playing their classic role. When Hera tells Zeus to instruct Hercules to kill “Angel Gabriel” this is misheard by Zeus as “bring me coconut crab sandwich”. When sent to complete King Herod (Tatiana Kacmarska)’s labours, Hercules proclaims to see Jarred (Lucien Ngai) or Howard (Asta Knight), not Herod or whatever they’re called.

Popular music is peppered throughout the production. Lyricist, Lewis Eggeling and Musical Director Frey White reimagine Hairspray’s Welcome to the 60s as Welcome to 0BC for the birth of Christ. The bulk of Hercules’ labours are performed to a version of I Need a Hero.

Monty Panto and the 12(ish) Labours. Pic Thomas Penketh Photography

The standout performance both for musicality and acting in their many roles comes from Asta Knight. In the ensemble, your eye is often drawn to their reactions and commitment to character. However, Knight’s outstanding performance, as Brian Cox for the Gilbert and Sullivan parody I am the paragon of a perplexing Physicist, steals the show.

Against the backdrop of an impressive raised pergola and a mural of Olympus, there is excellent gender blindness in the casting of characters such that it almost needs no mention and feels completely natural.


While entertaining, the overall plot is confused and lacks real purpose and direction with the ending hastily pulled together. Despite the name, there are few consistent, clear references to Monty Python and, unfortunately, little panto until the final few scenes. Nevertheless, the large cast and crew’s delivery, humour and dedication create an enjoyable and convivial show.

Running time: Two hours and 15 minutes (including one interval)
Bedlam Theatre, 11B Bristo Place, EH1 1EZ.
Wed 29 Nov – Sat 2 Dec 2023.
Evenings: 7.30pm.
Run ended. Details here.

Monty Panto and the 12(ish) Labours. Pic Thomas Penketh Photography

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