UnLOCKed: Potted Panto

Potted Panto returns to the West End ten years after its creation by Dan and Jeff, who are also responsible for Potted Potter and Potted Sherlock.

If you’re familiar with those – or the work of the Reduced Shakespeare Company – the formula of fun and breakneck run-throughs of familiar shows will make perfect sense. This tenth anniversary show is both Covid-proof and Covid-relevant, so we don’t quite forget about the dreadful year that was 2020, but at least can laugh at it.

Dan (Daniel Clarkson, the lanky clown of the pair) has a list of “the twelve great pantos, but Jeff (Jefferson Turner, the exasperated straight man) dismisses most of the list as irrelevant. They do agree on most titles, and duly share them with a lively and amused audience (aided and abetted at key moments by Jacob Jacobson and Charlotte Payne).

Jeff Turner, "Tiny Tim" and Dan Clarkson in Potted Panto

From Jack and the Beanstalk and the three stories featuring the vain Prince Charming (huh!), to a mash-up of Aladdin and A Christmas Carol which has one Abanazar Scrooge resisting redemption, the pair of writer-performers (the third writer, Richard Hurst, directs) bring high energy and mischief to the stage.

With a scarily familiar Dick Whittington who has prime ministerial ambitions, an aloof gung-ho cat, and a parade of plain princesses/would-be princesses imitated by Jeff, this show includes both slightly risqué jokes (nothing to bother the little ones, but may keep mum and dad smiling) and traditional audience participation.

Traditional panto bits like “he’s behind you”, the sing-song, the “on your feet behaving like a nit”, and the cathartic boo are all present and correct, plus a couple of scene-stealing puppets and some off-stage bits which leave the audience vaguely wondering what is an ad lib and what has been rehearsed to perfection.

Dan Clarkson in Potted Panto

The golden moose and the fairy godchicken are testament to misheard instructions and misplaced costumes for the cause (those costumes by Nicky Bunch and Simon Scullion are terrific, by the way), while the traditional love’s kiss is quickly dismissed under Covid concerns.

The audience may be somewhat distanced (by one metre) and masked throughout, but we still shouted out, sang, laughed, and had fun. Strange times – but this show will surely take you out of that constant concern about being back in the moment out of your social bubble.

Potted Panto runs until 10 January 2021 at the Garrick Theatre, with performances dotted throughout the week. Book here from £20 a ticket. Family and group options up to a group of six are also available.

Image credit: Geraint Lewis.

LouReviews received complimentary tickets to review Potted Panto.