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Pantos on Strike (Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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If you want to go and watch your average family pantomime then Pantos On Strike is not for you. It offers a  totally different take on the Christmas tradition, with Paddy McGuinness and Jonathan Wilkes returning this year to bring their fun filled yet rather crude pantomime back to the Opera House.

Don’t get me wrong all your favourite ingredients are here; audience participation, songs, a few forgotten lines and a dame in the form of Dame Dolly Dumpling -Christian Patterson, but this time it’s for over 18s only.

The plot follows McGuinness and Wilkes on a quest through panto land to rescue Princess Crystal (Suzanne Carley), who has been captured by panto villain Evil King Foo (Brian Capron). An abundance of other classical pantomime characters also make an appearance to bring this show together.

With a slightly slow start, the pace picks up in the second act with musical numbers including "I Need a Hero" and "I’m a Believer" where Loose Woman and Fairy Godmother Zoe Tyler shines with her powerful voice.

Written by the duo and Eric Potts, this show is not for all tastes with sexual innuendoes, swearing and topical jokes; some of which gained a harsh reaction from the crowd. A constant friendly banter between Wilkes and McGuinness, definitely adds something to this adult only viewing, however.

The jokes tend to wear thin with the constant reference to McGuinness only being famous through fellow Bolton comedian Peter Kay and Jonathan Wilkes only know as Robbie Williams’s best mate; but hey, at least the duo can laugh about it and their friendship truly does shine on stage.

The choreography leads little to be desired with the dancers frequently not being in time and this is combined with a basic set design.

A traditional pantomime idea infused with an up to date modern twist; this show is no award winning theatre performance but if you are game for a laugh, don’t mind the rude jokes then this could be for you.

For the rest of you though, then I’m afraid this panto could mean that your enjoyment goes on strike!

- Lauren Maughan


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