Writer & Director:
Sofonda Cox – Miss Dusty ‘O’
Fairy Bell End – Laura Hyde
Dick – Gary Albert Hughes
Dave, the cat – Nathaniel Tapley
Alice Fitz-Nicely – Rae Brogan
Queen Runt – Lucyelle Cliffe
Being an ignorant Canadian and not altogether familiar with the ins and outs of British Pantomime, I walked into the cabaret lounge of Leicester Square theatre and sat in the front row of Dick. Of course, upon arriving, I was assured by the gentlemen at the door, “They won’t pick on you at all, honestly!” Well, he lied. And, turns out, he was the writer/director, Stuart Saint. Thanks, Stuart!
In the midst of this trashy, glitter smeared set, adults run about with boobs stuffed up and crotches stuffed out, and the audience are carried to a far away land that can only be described as completely outrageous! The show starts with a vivacious and cutesy Fairy Bell End (Laura Hyde) who gives us the low down on Dick. She adjusts our ears to the X-rated language and “ADULT ONLY” humour that saturates the adaptation. In case you haven’t figured out yet, this panto is loosely, and I mean loosely, based on Dick Whittington. Saint’s story line is an adventure where Dick (Gary Albert Hughes) and his cat Dave (Nathaniel Tapley) set out for London. They meet Sofanda Cox, played by the legendary DJ drag queen, Miss Dusty “O”, and Alice Fitz-Nicely (Rae Brogan) at their future place of employment: a sex club. When Dick falls for Alice, Alice bids him to search for the key that will unlock her chastity belt, releasing the “family jewels”. I’m just going to apologise now for the excessive quotation marks I’ll be using. As I was saying, Dick searches for the family jewels, which involves an X Factor competition, a treasure map, a boat, and a hilarious sequence of events. In the end he gets the girl… and to her and everyone else’s surprise…. her…… “family jewels”.
Every character gets a splash of spotlight in nearly every scene. Nobody is left off stage for long, making this truly an ensemble show. The cast didn’t boost on having a stand out performer. That’s what made the show excellent: it had a solid cast that worked together in creating hilarious entertainment. Alice’s slick rhymes in her ghetto-cockney accent were a brilliant contrast to Sofanda’s over exuberant disgust about anyone and anything; Queen Runt’s multi-beltastic personality coupled nicely with Dave’s pompous pussy attitude, and Dick’s flamboyant ego stood nicely next to the dirty Disney version of Fairy Bell End. A round of applause to each actor for making me cry with laughter on more than one occasion.
I must say, the cast are masters at working the crowd, which was perhaps encouraged by Saint’s direction; they had an excellent way of making the subject matter easier to swallow. They didn’t shut us off or tune us out. They genuinely had a laugh with us! The cast’s awareness of the absurd scenes allowed the audience to warm to them even more. Now, I said before that I was new to the phenomenon known as Pantomime, but my friends prepped me before I went. They filled me in on the whole audience participation thing, reminding me to boo the Baddie and shout out “behind you!!!”. In this show, however, I got to scream out all kinds of obscenities, and it was at the request of the cast! Needless to say, this offered a whole new level to audience participation that our tipsy crowd grew to love!
With candor, energy, and strong vocals, the cast offered a highly stylised, tacky (in a good way), crowd teasing comedy. As for my experience, let’s just say, I was heckled so often, so unabashedly, that my name almost became synonymous with Dick. I buried my face about 2 minutes into Act One.
Obviously, like any show, Dick may appeal to some more than others. (Seriously, the double entendres are killing me.) But you know what you’re in for. With a title like, Dick, you’d be outright silly not to know! My date for the evening savoured the uproarious show, and was even pulled on stage for some “action”. By the interval we agreed we were essentially featured ensemble! So, if you’d like to refrain from a featured role, stay clear of the front row! But if you’re wanting a good night out, I can happily recommend Dick! It runs until the 20th of January at the Leicester Square Theatre, London, so don’t miss it.
Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you. I lost my Panto virginity… to Dick! Seems appropriate enough, right?
Review by Ruthie Luff