Review by David Munro
THE pleasure of a pantomime is the enjoyment of the children.
If the production is stylish and pleasurable, that is a bonus.
At Richmond last night, the pleasure of the children was
massive but, for me at any rate, the production had no bonus.
I don't think that Snow White is a good subject for a
pantomime, the humorous characters are grafted on to the Grimm
story, willy-nilly, and there is no real opportunity given in
the basic plot for the opulence and magic one associates with
The writers have created a nurse and guardian for Snow White
whom, together with the wicked queen, provide the comedy material.
As portrayed by Peter Piper, as Muddles, the guardian, and Richard
Dax, as the nurse, Gwen, they perform the comedy routines required
of them without any charm or originality.
This is clearly what the children enjoyed so it is probably
ungenerous of me to cavil.
I do, however, have in mind Peter Piper in the same part at
Brighton last year impressing me as a comedian of exceptional
He then endowed the character with charm and a certain wit, which
is now sadly lacking, and reminded me of the great panto comics
who spiced their performances with the zest and vigour they had
acquired in the now sadly defunct Music Halls.
They had a basic humorous talent and did not have to rely on
cheap imitations of other comics or TV personalities to milk the
Peter Piper only justified my memory of him once this year in
a routine as a Gorilla, carrying him in a portable cage.
I will not attempt to describe the vigour or originality that
he brought to this sketch, you really have to see it to appreciate
how extremely funny he can be.
However, this was a flash in the pan and for the rest of the
evening, he never reached the heights of comedy again, as he had
done last year.
Lesley Joseph, as the Queen, was a bird of a different feather.
Her performance had improved immeasurably from last year and she
personified a marvellously evil Queen, who, at the same time,
is uproariously funny.
She was only fazed once when one of the children screamed a spontaneous
derogatory remark at her, but this was a compliment in reverse
for the power and credibility she brought to the character she
She was pure joy and for me at least made the whole evening worthwhile.
Snow White is a cipher and, as such, was in safe hands with Laurie
Hagen who simpered and sung off key to such an extent that one
felt a lot of sympathy with the Queen's dislike of her.
Paul Manvel was a suitably wooden prince for her cardboard performance
and the seven dwarfs, whom one felt were there on sufferance as
they appear in the title, performed professionally what little
(sorry) they were called upon to do.
The choreography, such as it could be called, was credited to
I have a great admiration for Mr Flavin, whom I consider one
of the greatest dancers to grace the musicals of today. How he
could have perpetrated the lacklustre, unoriginal routines we
saw last night, I cannot imagine.
It was amateur night at the village hall and called to mind
Ralph Reader's efforts for the Gang Show.
He, at least, was dealing with amateurs not, as in this case,
Pantomime dancing is traditionally uninspired but Mr Flavin is
carrying tradition a bit too far.
The direction, by Paul Wilmott, who also is credited with adaptation
of the book, carried the action along with sufficient pace to
hold the children's attention without forcing them to dwell too
long on the traditional cut out sets - unaccredited, but clearly
well preserved from one of the last war's economical pantos.
But as I have said, initially the proof of the pantomime pudding
is in the eating, and the children gobbled it up with relish,
and so long as they enjoyed it, forget my regret that the production,
for me, fell far below the standards one has come to expect from
the past and more pleasurable Richmond pantomimes - Lesley Joseph
excepted of course!
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. by Keith Simmons and Paul
Elliott, Adapted by Phil Willmott; Director - Phil Willmott; Choreographer
- Tim Flavin; Lighting - Gerry Jenkinson; Musical Director - Joseph
Morley. WITH: Lesley Joseph; Laurie Hagen; Peter Piper; Ricard
Dax; Paul Manuel; Karen Anderson; Jamie Cameron; Malcolm Dixon;
Denise Ann Dove; Georgian Petricia Ilie; Ion Paliu; Brian Wheeler;
Mathew Beadle; Enrhys Cooper; Greg Meyer; Nikki Mullins; Andrew
Rees; Kelly Louise Rowden; Jenni Stow; Francesca Wegrzyn. Producer
- Nick Thomas and Jon Conway for Qdos Entertainment plc. Richmond
Theatre, The Little Green , Richmond, Surrey. Dec 11, 2003 - Jan
Eve. 7pm Mat: 2.30pm
Box Office: 020 8940 0088