Panto review: ‘Snow White’ at The Wycombe Swan
Is this panto, starring the gyrating Brendan Cole, the fairest in the land? Well, you'll just have to read on to find out, won't you my pretty?
Huzzah! Panto season is well and truly underway and I’m in my happy place, buying spinny neon thingies, nicking my children’s candy floss and joining in just a little bit too enthusiastically.
The good news from Snow White at The Wycombe Swan, starring Brendan Cole, Mandy Muden, Jason Cole as the panto dame and Kieran Powell as Muddles, is that it’s very funny.
Unlike most pantos I see, which stall in one half or the other, this one rollicked along, and there were plenty of high points, including the surprise revelation that Brendan Cole can SING! Not only that, he remembers his lines and makes fun of himself too – his joke about being available because he was dumped by Strictly and panto was the best thing on offer was a proper guffaw moment.
I’d never heard of Kieran Powell before the show and the signs weren’t promising – a cheesy-looking ventriloquist in nerdy glasses with a small dinosaur puppets didn’t bode well, but honestly, he turned out to be the highlight of my panto. Very, very funny, adept at ad-libbing (not least when the panto dame kept forgetting his lines) and with a few naughty jokes that flew over young heads and slapped the delighted adults right on the bonce. I talked to him at the end of the show and he was saying he wanted to modernise how people view ventriloquism. I think he’s off to a good start.
What else to tell you? Well, the set was simple but vibrant and sparkly (this counts when you’re 11 – ask my daughter) and the supporting cast all sang, danced and acted with heart to the live orchestra. Special mention to the seven dwarfs who, in this show, were actually full sized men on their knees with pretend muppet-style legs that moved as they shuffled along. Their close harmony singing was actually rather beautiful.
If I was to be picky (hey, its my job to tell you the truth!), I’d have liked a bit more nuance from the evil queen who was a bit relentlessly cackly – though she has a cracking pair of tonsils. so give her another song please!
And Mandy Muden’s scripted mis-rhyming of her lines as the Mirror lost its allure fairly early on. However, she clearly has a way with the audience and is a hugely engaging personality, so I dare say as time goes on she’ll ad lib her way to laughs.
One last thing to mention about this performance – we had lunch here for the first time before the show (yeah yeah I’m lazy, so sue me). While The Wycombe Swan won’t win any culinary awards, I mention it because it’s a really useful option for kids, with all the usuals of fish and chips, cheeseburgers, tomato pasta etc. With four children in tow for panto for an afternoon performance, it made everything feel a lot less effort, and by having a table and seats in the run up to the show we all felt relaxed. Make sure you pre-book, quite a few others had the same idea as me.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: er, KIDS! Mine gave it 10 out of 10. I’ll go for a 8.5. At 2 hours 10 including the interval it’s a good length for tiny folk.
Not for: The obligatory squeaky singing of pop songs will slightly grate on those allergic to X-Factor style fromage.
Dare to disagree? Be my guest! It’s on until Sun 30 Dec and family tickets (2 adults, 2 kids) start at £78.