It's a "pantomime for adults" – a combination of licensing laws and the overwhelming preponderance of Dick and Pussy gags. But it's impossible to be snooty about such a jaunty show in such a jaunty venue. Vincent Hayes virtually single-handedly got the Music Hall up and running earlier this year, and its reputation is already assured as a purveyor of old-time fun. Both as Chairman and, in the panto, as Alderman Fitzwarren and the Sultan of Morocco, Hayes exudes a rare joy – bouncing affably (if not always politically correctly) off heckles, and relishing a rapt (not to say Brahms & Liszt) audience.
Some of the song cues are incredibly contrived, and the songs themselves (occasionally sung by a cardboard cut-out chorus line) an eclectic mix of singalongs and show tunes, veering at their extremes from Kool And The Gang's "Celebration" to something entitled "Oh, I Do Like A Nice Meat Pie". As the show bursts through the cheese barrier, the audience are so willing to enter into the spirit of things that on this particular night they entrapped King Rat into an unscripted oh-no-you-won't routine. The three-course Christmas dinner acts as a legal mood-elevator, and Hayes is like a kid with a toy that he does want all the other kids to play with. Like a nice meat pie, it's nice, nice, nice.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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