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Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates 

The Bacon Theatre Winter 2020

A Ship Full Of Panto Fun

Once again the Bacon Theatre buzzed with excitement as the audience waited for the Pantomime to start. This was a traditional family Pantomime with a Principal boy, a beautiful girl, a villain, a Dame, not too bright son, forces of good and evil, a comic duo, colourful costumes, lovely sets and lots of singing and dancing.

The first character to appear was Coral, the Spirit of the seas, who set the scene and was there to make sure everything went well for the seafarers. She was then joined by Davina Jones, an evil schemer up to no good who wanted to cause trouble for sea travellers, so we have the conflict between good and evil. Then the curtains opened and we were taken to a bright and colourful Brazil for the opening number.

This is a large stage and the Company usually hires backcloths as they did on this occasion from Scenery Hire, Newport. They were all well painted and took us to most of the locations required by the story, with the addition of items of scenery and set dressing. The ship and Davina Jones locker scenes were very effective.

The lighting had been well designed and operated and enhanced the sets and the costumes. There were well-

timed sound effects such as the sound of the sea on the ship.

The microphones were well cued and the sound balance was good. The costumes were colourful, well-fitting and suited to Pantomime and combined with good make-up helped create the characters. Particularly impressive was that of Pretty Poll, Robinson’s pet parrot.

The music from the duo of Paul Hardy and Keith Brain was well played, and as there were a number of young voices, a small band worked very well.

The songs had been well taught and were well sung on the whole. I felt the opening number in Brazil was a little quiet but the volume increased as the show progressed. The choice of songs was interesting and there was some lovely solo singing and duets.

The show had a troupe of young dancers who belonged to the Phoenix Dance Studios, who supplied the major dance routines, including a well co-ordinated, tap routine. The choreography for the general cast was tailored to their ability and looked confident.

There were some strong performances from the principals with brilliant support from the chorus, with everyone working well together. The Immortals were Coral, The Spirit of the Seas, played by Tessa Champion, who delivered her lines very clearly and exuded peace and tranquillity.

The other Immortal was Davina Jones, a female version of Davy Jones, played by Angie Aston, with a lovely accent, who was Coral's arch-enemy and a force of evil. We then had the regular seafarers, Andrew Bullock who looked the part, but I think he could have shown a little more

authority as Captain Salt; Hannah Galleries was his confident daughter, Juanita, she sang well and worked well with a convincing Dominique Yates as Robinson Crusoe.

Then there was Margarita Juicilita, the outrageously over-the-top ship’s cook, once again played by John Pannett, with Samuel Taunton as her son Nutty Nick. The name says it all, not the brightest button, but he did well encouraging the audience to protect his bag of nuts and they did.

We then had the Pirates, who were in direct contrast to the others. Ben Goodman made a dominant, ruthless buccaneer Cut-Throat with his somewhat foolish but amusing companions Skull-Duggery and Cross-Bones played by Frank Dalton and James Meekums, I would have

liked to have seen a bit more of them.

Then on the desert island, we had Maggie Ansell as the scary Witch Doctor, Vickie Talbot as a feisty cannibal Queen, and Claire Enstone as a helpful, considerate Girl Friday. But I have to say the one who stole the show for me was Maggie Preston as Robinson’s pet parrot Pretty Poll, this was only a small part with very little dialogue but so beautifully portrayed.

There were lots of expected bad jokes and puns, which come with Pantomime but I did not think it was one of Alan Frayn’s best scripts. The actors encouraged the audience to respond and they were well rewarded. There were a few places where things could have progressed a

little faster but I wonder if first night nerves had set in and the cast needed to gain a bit more confidence, which I'm sure happened as the week went on.

Heather Newman had worked hard with her cast and dancers, and the result was a pleasing evening of entertainment, which the audience enjoyed, and responded well, especially the young Brownies sitting at the front. Everyone on and off stage seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Frankie Telford NODA

Regional Representative South West District 15

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