Reviewed by Peter Steptoe for The Croydon Advertiser
Ah, lovely Lavinia
What would Arthur Sarsfield Ward have thought of this pantomime, written and directed by Mark Taylor, with the assistance of Tina Poole? He was better known as the crime writer Sax Rohmer, who created the sinister Chinese character Fu Manchu.
I was puzzled at the beginning because the characters of Bunty and Charles seemed to bear little relation to the subsequent plot, which was the abolition of Father Christmasses by the wily Oriental gentleman himself, played effectively by the lowered eyelids of Mike Brown.
This company was extremely good at set piece jokes, such as the lie detector that the police and assorted villains demonstrated to great effect; the action with a broom that had uses other than sweeping floors; the revolving throne; and a succession of decapitating swords of ever-increasing lengths.
Paul Breden was Lavinia, a dame of bustumentous proportions whom I grew to love, despite the one note high-pitched harangues.
Her star sign was viagra, and her companion was Sheridan Wildelover (Richard Lloyd), an actor laddie from the old touring company days, with the rolling cadences of the declamatory school of acting. The mish-mash of Shakespearean misquotations was a joy to hear.
Martin Smith was Mr Ball (“how very singular”) who was manager of the Savoy Grill, while Hung Lo (Penny Simeone), Long Pong (Matthew Marsh), Gong Bong (Jonathan Wales) and Mei Dingaling (Lisa Lloyd) are a sufficient indication of roughly what took place with the villains.
The incompetent constabulary of PC Manly (Daniel Ireson), WPC Shapely (Tanya Allison), Inspector Burke (Tim Young) – probably christened Wright – and Sergeant Duffem (Chris Argles) are descriptively allegorical.
I liked Claire Andreadis and Kimberley Argles as the Kung Fu Dancers who performed to the throbbing music of Mark Taylor on the keyboards. Is there no end to his talents?
I can only express my gratitude when Fu Manchu dispatching his henchmen to behead any member of the audience said; “Save that of the theatre critic.”
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