Words by Matthew Hyde
The much anticipated star-studded panto is back at the Palladium and it’s a riot of colour, fun, celebration, festive cheer and endless sexual innuendo. Subtle It’s not. This bold and brash production has an eye-watering budget creating a sumptuous visual feast.
Talking about the plot of Snow White is pointless. It is largely ignored here with the production being more of a variety show, shamelessly showcasing the line up of celebrities which is no bad thing as it’s why we are here.
Julian Clary leads the way as The Man In The Mirror. His last panto appearance earned him the dubious description of a ‘tsunami of smut’.
In this instance it’s a double tsunami with wave upon wave of innuendo. Nothing is sacred, from a battered sausage, to being taken up the Shard to having a good eight inches at his back door.
It’s incredibly funny but drawn out over two hours does start to wear a little thin. His costumes are a thing of wonder growing bigger and gaudier and truly resembling works of art.
Dawn French makes her panto debut as Queen Dragonella. She has her usual impish-like cheek and charm yet somehow feels a little underwhelmed.
This could be down to her acting opposite Clary’s costumes however her inability to master her evil Dragonella laugh is a running joke that is genuinely hilarious.
There is strong support from ventriloquist Paul Zerdin and his puppet Sam. It’s wonderful stuff, especially when Sam realises with horror where Zerdin’s hand is in order to make him work.
(“You animal!”) Gary Wilmot stops the show as the Dame with an absolutely staggering rendition of all the stars who have appeared on the Palladium stage. He also sings a song about the love of a mother which will melt even the hardest of hearts.
Poor Nigel Havers continues the joke about being a washed up has-been and to prove the point just seems a bit pointless.
Strictly Come Dancing stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace are shoehorned in but their dancing is spectacular. Charlie Stemp as Prince Harry offers good looks which gives Clary endless jokes about meeting on the Heath and gives Dawn French opportunity to grind with couger-esque delight.
This isn’t the perfect panto by any means. The end of act one was a bewildering mess but it still glittered, shimmered and looked beautiful. Panto’s are meant to be completely current however there was only one mention of Brexit.
Every audience member was checking their phones in the interval to see if May had survived her no confidence vote. This provided a golden opportunity which was missed and that’s a shame.
However, this is an evening full to the brim of laughter and good old fashioned entertainment.
Rating – 4*
Snow White plays at the London Palladium until January 13. Grab your tickets here.