Dick Whittington

Location: The National Theatre, London

Dick Whittington

By Tim Saunders

We watch this adaptation of Dick Whittington at The National in London on Christmas Day; 24 hours after watching Damian’s Pop Up Panto at Sheffield Theatres. We are really excited about it and it is anticipated that this well-known London theatre will trounce a provincial player. Never assume.

Dick Whittington has all the makings of being a huge success – indeed we have watched some fantastic versions. Sadly this is not one of them. Firstly, there’s a painfully poor script littered with exceedingly weak double entendres. It is actually depressing rather than uplifting. “My name was William,” reveals Dick, adding that Willy offended him and Dick is less troublesome for him. There’s much worse, too and some of it is just plain unsuitable for a young audience. In this budget production there is no scenery whatsoever.  

We all realise why the arts is struggling and that life is challenging to say the least but the whole idea of a pantomime is to laugh and lift the spirits. Unfortunately, my family and I don’t and can’t, much as we want to. Bear in mind that I am merrier than usual after a pleasant couple of pints with my Christmas lunch. Life is always rosier for me after a nice beer or two. But even that can’t help this performance. “Your Mad Libs books are funnier than this,” chides Heidi (7). We had completed a few of these hilarious word games beforehand and we were literally crying with laughter, so we were most certainly in the mood to continue this hilarity. Yet within seconds of watching we quickly sober up and sit straight faced. I soon begin wondering how else I might better spend these two hours. I count the cast members. They run into double figures. This compares to just five in Damian’s Pop Up Panto.

Oh, it does disappoint me to write a negative review and clearly a number of people attended the performance that was filmed for streaming but we can’t hear any of them laughing uncontrollably either.

The entire production takes place on a circular stage and lighting is relied on for effect. There’s much mediocre singing and dancing. “My school production was better than this,” moans Harriett (9). Perhaps she’s a bit harsh although I must agree that her school does produce a very good play with some great acting, especially for ones so young.

Thank goodness for Queen Rat, though who is by far and away the strongest performer and Henry (4) enjoys it when she rides a Henry vacuum cleaner round the stage. Mayor Pigeon also captures our attention as she flies onto the stage. If the unnecessary pea throwing competition and disco were removed less time would be wasted.

On until December 27, 2020

Star rating

2 gold stars

Click the link below to watch:

The National Theatre at Home