"For me, a Curate’s Egg"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 07/12/17

John Savournin is one of the most talented and charismatic performers in the business and his performance as Lord Conniving and his transformation into an Egyptian Vizier is certainly startling. Head and shoulders above all the others! (Panto jokes are catching)

The Charles Court Opera Pantos are one of the most popular events of the Christmas season. They have now taken root at the Kings Head in Islington and I am told that the whole season is practically a sell out. They are famed for their singing of Gilbert and Sullivan operas and their witty, intelligent plots.

This panto was penned by Savournin and his musical director David Eaton and it is a bit of a mishmash of a plot with a lot of old panto gags tagged on and chucked at the highly appreciative audience. The plot concerns a group of explorers searching for the tomb of Tutankhamen, they discover a magic stone and are transported back in time to the palace of the young king himself where they all undergo a kind of transformation.

Personally I think they try too hard to follow the panto ethic and the story is over laden with double entendres that are deliberately set up rather than seeming accidental and their reaction to the audience’s laughter is a knowing leer instead of the surprise at their dirty minds. But nevertheless the customers are having a happy time.

Alys Roberts is a delight as the boy king Tut and her relationship with Philip Lee as Clive the Camel is very touching and is the only real humanity in the play.

The thing that worried me right from the start was having a hero who farts when he gets near his beloved. An accidental fart can be enjoyed by children and young men from public schools but not a good basis for the character of a hero. The heroine Evelyn, played by Francesca Fenech, is a lady of luscious dimensions and a powerful voice. She takes on the role of Principal Boy in khaki shorts and a painted-on moustache – more comfortable to her lover Philip Carter (Matt R J Ward).

There are some interesting stunts, when the villain becomes an armchair and gets sat upon by the overs and again when both the lovers develop an extra pair of legs each.

The production values are terrific. The sets by Sean Taylor are beautiful with Egyptian Hieroglyphics and lots of glitter. Great lighting by Nicholas Holdridge, the costumes of Savournin and Alys Roberts and exceptionally glamorous. In contrast, the lovers both wear English style khaki shorts and solar topees.

This is an audience pleaser in the main. But for me – a Curate’s Egg.

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