Writer: Paul L Martin
Director: Vanessa Pope
Reviewer: T. L. Wiswell
It is not surprising that the pervasive British theatrical form that is pantomime should itself spawn a sub-genre, much as the Twilight series birthed the paranormal romance. The light-hearted fairy tale and song extravaganza at the heart of Panto performances creates a sense of longing in adult theater fans for a good night out that’s both interactive and filled with biting wit: and, for some, there’s the desire to see the sexual subtext brought to the fore and paraded around for general delectation. Yes, the sub-genre in question is the adult pantomime (“Oh no it’s not!”), and Lost Theatre’s current production, Kitten in Heels, is pretty much everything a slightly drunk person with a loose moral compass could want.
Kitten in Heels is a reimagining of Puss in Boots via Dick Whittington and features a cast of cabaret regulars (Jamie Anderson, Miss Alternative World Fancy Chance) as well as some shiny, fresh talent with excellent comic timing and fine pipes. Dick (Ashton Charge) heads to London with his newly inherited cat, Puss (Becky Finlay-Hall), where he finds a job working for Dame Choo (Paul L Martin) and falls in love with her daughter Jenny (Holly Aisbitt). But there are obstacles – Dame Choo is being wooed by fabulous drag queen King Rat (Jamie Anderson), and Jenny seems to have fallen for a sexy shoe peddler (Fancy Chance) and her secret lemon stash.
As with any panto, it’s not really about the story; it’s the jokes and the improv and the hysterically re-imagined songs that make Kitten in Heels such a fun night out. We start out with a Boris Johnson sight gag, move on to rude jokes about Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon, then wrap up with Memories sung by the dame, on her knees, “a la Elaine Paige.” Now, these are jokes not just for an adult audience but for an audience that gets its musical theatre references (which included Gypsy and Cabaret) as well as pop culture (“We built this panto on prosecco”), and the folks at The Lost Theatre were eating it up.
This isn’t to say that by “adult audiences only,” Excess All Areas is indicating the maturity in taste that comes with age: no, this show featured audience members fishing down cast members’ trousers; the gift of a sex toy; endless jokes about Puss and Dick; and same-sex kissing all around (the last one powerful enough that the dame’s makeup appeared to melt off of her face). Much of the ad-libbed jokes were raunchy as well (and they came fast and furiously, fnar fnar), and it all added up to the kind of evening that would absolutely not suit the kiddies, thankfully.
Overall, the cast is more than capable of rising above the bad puns and cheap set and giving the audience a night worth two and a half hours and, at least, one bottle of prosecco for each act. Excess All Areas has done a brilliant job with this year’s production and it will be giving the all-ages ones a run for the money in terms of talent, musicality and wit.
Runs until 20 December 2015 | Image: Excess All Areas