Reviewed by Donald Madgwick for The Croydon Advertiser
About halfway into the evening, Calamity Dame exclaims “This is beginning to sound like a proper pantomime!”
One certainly sees her point. Pantomime is a broad church – the very word itself means “imitator of all” – but what are we to make of a show that begins with a declamation in trochaic tetrameters, a la Hiawatha and is largely concerned with the expropriation of Indian land by rapacious white settlers?
Well, take it or leave it, that is what author and director Richard Lloyd has dished up for our entertainment at Coulsdon’s Youth and Social Centre.
Subtitled The Ballad of Hamster Gulch, it shows that panto can go west in more ways than one.
Once you have adjusted your mental set, you can sit back and enjoy an intriguing entertainment. The first real intimation that you might be in Pantoland comes with the arrival of Mike Brown, got up as a big bold brassy broad, clumping into the saloon at Hamster Gulch in boots which would grace the shed at Stamford Bridge.
He, or she, is Calamity Dame, all the way from Coulsdon, aunt to Clint Cougar of the Texas Rangers, who appears in the slim and graceful form of Tina Bretman.
So that’s taken care of the gender bending; now let’s get on with the show folks.
The baddie is Jake McCabe, whom Chris Argles works valiantly to make us hate, and partly succeeds. His thunder, though, is always being stolen by his sidekicks, Daniel Ireson as the sharpshooting Cactus Kid and Luke Argles as Dopey Hobart, a nana with a banana, which cryptic description may be better understood at first hand.
The perils of baked beans are freely aired in a bright and breezy show of which Tanya Allison is the musical director, and whose stronger contributors include Rebecca Ford as a dumb blonde and Sinead Russell as a bright redskin.
Robert Del Toro
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