Dick Whittington at New Wimbledon Theatre
For me Christmas has always been characterised by trips to see pantos! New Wimbledon Theatre’s production of Dick Whittington certainly lived up to expectations, it was not only hilarious but also utterly enchanting. Striking the perfect balance between classic pantomime humour and traditional seasonal magic yet still with modern and relatable twists.
What I found particularly brilliant about the show was the expert choreography and production quality, the minute the dancers hit the stage it was clear that the audience was so captivated by the scale of the show. The atmosphere was exciting and cheerful atmosphere and after a year that seemed to be full of darkness this performance definitely brightened things up for at least a few hours.
The loveable protagonist Dick Whittington was played by East Enders’ Shane Richie who brought constant humour to the role that came naturally given his many years of experience in theatre and TV. The story follows Dick as he heroically defeats the rats and Queen rat in a pursuit to win the heart of Alice Fitzwarren, played by the fantastic Hiba Elchikhe, and eventually becomes the mayor of London. I thought the performances of Hiba, Shona White as the spirit of Bow Bells and Peter Piper as Captain Cockles were especially commendable as they gave the show that added flair.
If I had to find a flaw with the production, I would say that the humour for some may be borderline on being too crude for family comfort especially given the traditional family friendly nature of pantomimes. Whilst euphemism is integral to pantomime humour, lines were crossed at times. Having said that, something absolutely brilliant about the show was the relevance to the current times and the relatable humour. For example a reference to Squid Game is featured and there are many examples of jokes specifically relevant to Wimbledon and the surrounding area which I thought was a perfect touch to add that element of relatability.
I would like to give a special mention to the head of wardrobe Abigail Morgan as well as Mark Coltman who was in charge of speciality costumes. Every single character was decked out in absolutely fabulous panto attire and this really added to the magic of the show. Additionally, I could not write this review without a mention of the company in charge of visual special effects, The Twins FX who had Shane Richie suspended in the air on a motorbike over the audience by the end of Act 1! This was a certainly a way to end the Act with a bang and I must say I was left shocked in my seat by the sheer sight of it. Further to this, the set design was brilliant with the use of bright lights and pyrotechnics.
The songs throughout the show blew me away particularly the opening and closing feature of ‘I’m A Believer’ led by Shane Richie as well as Hiba Elchikhe’s performance of ‘Hold My Hand’ by Jess Glynne. This element really appealed to the musical theatre lover in me.
I could talk all day about how much I enjoyed the show! It’s definitely worth a visit to the New Wimbledon Theatre to see Dick Whittington this year!
Review by Gabby and Cerys Chitty.
Dick Whittington is running at New Wimbledon Theatre until the 2nd January. You can find out more and book tickets on their website.