The RVT Panto
by Tim Benzie, Paul Joseph
director Tim McArthur
musical director Vicki Calver
with Ed Cooke, Leigh Pollard, Grace Kelly Miller, Ada Campe, Ben Hutt
Royal Vauxhall Tavern, London • 29.Nov.23-5.Jan.24 ★★★★
Narrated by the now-talking cow Daisy (Miller), the plot is fairly irrelevant, set after Jack (Cooke) has risen to social media fame as a giant killer, but he's wondering what he should do next. Meanwhile, his overambitious mother Spriggins (Hutt) is angling for him to marry into even more money, and the most likely candidate is Gina T (Pollard), a human-sized giant who is on a mission to avenge her fallen relative. And then there's Sorcererer (Campe), an endlessly mischievous magician who is happy to meddle.
As always, the audience participation elements feel rather repetitive, including a witty and enjoyably frantic variation on 12 Days of Christmas and a climactic singalong. And each character's call-and-response gag kind of gets lost in the shuffle, as it should. But there are also riotously amusing running gags, such as Dame Spriggins pointlessly begging the audience to please not boo her. And the hilarious choreography and snappy wordplay livens up the bonkers plot, as does the chaotic slapstick and a late connection to the enduring queer scene in Vauxhall.
ROYAL VAUXHALL TAVERN >
photos by Chris Jepson • 1.Dec.23