REVIEW: ‘Dick Whittington’ at Above The Stag Theatre

It wouldn’t be Christmas without visiting the gay adult panto at the Above The Stag Theatre in Vauxhall. This was my first trip to the new venue (which opened in 2018). I’ve missed the last couple of years because of living abroad but it’s always a delightfully warm and welcoming venue and the new building is glorious.

Dick Whittington and his Cat Pug, Ariana, arrive in the bright lights of London to seek a new life for themselves. But in London, you’re never more than six feet from a rat (they don’t do distancing) and Queen Rat takes an instant dislike to him, doing all she can do chase him out of town. A chance meeting with Alex Fitzwarren sees him invited to work at the family undertakers where he can live upstairs. But when the shop is threatened with closure, a plan is hatched to fly abroad to find Sarah the Cook’s long lost brother-in-law who has they key to the secret safe containing the money they need to survive.

As the Dame (Sarah the Cook), Matthew Baldwin is outstanding. If there was a Panto Dame in The Only Way Is Essex, Matthew would be the one, with perfect adlibs and comedy a-plenty. Christopher Lane as Fitzwarren is a little dull as far as characters go but this is all forgiven in act 2 when he plays the bright gay brother in law to rapturous laughter. Briony Rawle is rat-tastic as Queen Rat and Tom Mann (Alex Fitzwarren) and Anthony Rickman (Dick) both do equally well. It really is a perfect cast.

This show does particularly well to follow government guidelines on not encouraging the audience to shout out or join in with the show. Instead of booing every time Queen Rat takes the stage, we are encouraged to flip her the bird and we are told to shout out as quietly as possible which becomes a game of making no noise at all.

Dick Whittington at Above The Stag Theatre is the best panto I’ve seen so far in 2020 and so if we ever make it out of Tier 3 before it closes, make sure you go and check it out.

★★★★★

Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: PBG Studios