If you have never seen a traditional pantomime before then look no further than this season’s festive offering from the Oldham Coliseum. Dick Whittington reads like a tick list of all the essential ingredients for a good old-fashioned pantomime. Principle boy. Check. Evil villain. Check. Sword-fight finale. Check. But make no mistake, for all its slapstick and unscripted banter, this is another professional production with a decidedly local feel from this highly acclaimed venue.
Dick - the protagonist, of course, hails from Oldham and he travels to London to seek his fortune on its gold paved streets. Upon arrival he befriends a loyal companion Tommy the Cat and together they gain employment on the ‘good ship Metrolink’ where he falls in love with the Captain’s daughter. But Dick must defeat the evil King Rat to marry his love.
Billy Suet played by Richard J Fletcher is a firm audience favourite and there are memorable performances by Justine Elizabeth Bailey as Dick and former Hollyoaks and Coronation Street regular Andonis Anthony as King Rat. But it is Fine Time Fontayne as the pantomime dame ‘Saucy Sarah Suet’ who really steals the show (and also wrote it) – an Oldham panto regular his commanding stage presence and fabulously extravagant costumes more than compensate for the fact that there is no big celebrity name amongst the cast.
The ensemble chorus of young dancers are fantastic and they delighted the evening’s ardent theatregoers throughout with well-choreographed dance routines. The action is fast-paced and the impressive scene changes are seamless. A real audience connection is established right from the opening number and is maintained throughout the show, culminating in a predictable birthday sing- along and audience sing off guaranteed to get you clapping along in unison.
As far as interactive pantomimes go you’ll do well to find a more enjoyable one than this. A high-class theatre experience this is not. But if you’re looking for a feel-good family night out on a budget then take your seat at the Oldham Coliseum this Christmas for two and a half hours of sparkling entertainment.