Potted Panto – Garrick Theatre, London

Reviewer: Andrew Houghton

Writer: Jefferson Turner

Director: Richard Hurst

Potted Panto is celebrating its (delayed) 10th anniversary run this Christmas at the Garrick Theatre and, like any good pantomime, is serving all of the traditional gags along with a healthy helping of current affairs and wit.

The production is marketed as seven classic pantomimes in seventy hilarious minutes. This should maybe not be taken too literally, but the audience are taken on a journey that is certainly hilarious and definitely won’t leave viewers feeling short-changed.

Potted Panto is more of an introduction to the pantomime genre as a whole rather than an accurate depiction of the individual stories. However the popular tales need little explaining, so their loose handling adds to the entertainment and the performers win more laughs the further they veer off course. Even the exposition of silly pantomime traditions is dripping with self- aware ridicule that will delight panto newbies and veterans alike.

This production is the perfect family show, delivering heaps of fun within a short running time. The show packs in a lot of laughs and delivers a broad range of comedy, so that for every silly gag to make the kids squeal, there is also intelligent satire to make the grown ups cackle. The unapologetic political satire within the retelling of Dick Whittington is a particularly crowd-pleasing section.

Daniel Clarkson, one half of the comedy duo who originated the Potted stage shows, and Gary Trainor make a fantastic pair with banter so organic that some of the show might genuinely be improvised. Their rapport, and faux conflict about how to deliver the show, is established immediately and only grows stronger and more entertaining throughout. Most impressive is their ability to deliver silly, energetic performances which captivate the child-heavy audience without patronising the adult viewers.

Potted Panto is the perfect modern pantomime, introducing all of the old panto clichés to a new generation in a knowing way that never grows tedious. Not to mention, it delivers seven times the stories, characters and hilarity – in half the time!

Runs until 9 January 2022

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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