The traditional Christmas pantomime comes to life at the Questors with a sweet princess, a dotty dame in the personage of the Queen, and a hissable villainess as the green witch Caraboose causes havoc.
The formula of tradition – boos, “it’s behind you”, singalongs, and an eclectic and well-curated set of songs – works well.
The children in the cast are a talented bunch and in the principals, a nod needs to be given to old hand Howard Shepherdson as the Queen, Russell Fleet as a magnificent bad girl, and Rory Hobson as the Buttons-like Billy, who leads the audience in song with the old tongue-twisting coffee pot number.
There’s a hint of blue for the grown-ups, a nod to big ticket musicals (the whole castle rises up against the threat to their princess with ‘Do You Hear The People Sing’ from Les Mis, and Aurora greets her prince Orlando with Aladdin’s ‘A Whole New World’), and tributes to variety we’ve lost – the show opens with Ken Dodd’s ‘Happiness’.
Once again this hardworking amateur company have provided the goods for a fun and reasonably priced family show.
We all know the pantomime traditions and tropes – the middle-aged man in numerous petticoats as the Dame, a young girl as the Principal Boy, popular songs, bad jokes, audience participation and healthy booing of the villains.
Up in town you have Julian Clary and Nigel Havers treading the boards, while Biggins is in Richmond, but in Ealing an accomplished cast of amateur players including a cute set of children keep the Judi Dench Playhouse audience entertained.
The key villain of Baron von Rumpensmakker (ho ho) reminded me of Basil Rathbone in swashbuckler mode, and he and his Irish Gonk riding geese stirred memories of old Bernie Clifton’s ostrich.
A hard-working cast including some precocious children who are truly set for brighter things if fate and hard work allow keep things moving with the usual misdirection, sing-song, tap dance, and even a decorating routine worthy of the best of Charlie Drake. The good fairy, the bad troll, and the wise old goose round off proceedings with a deep-voiced snow monster pulling the finale together.
The Questors is located on Mattock Lane behind Ealing Broadway.