Writer: Peter Rowe
Director: Suba Das
If you go down in the woods today, you will be sure of a big surprise… because this year’s Rock’n’Roll panto at the Everyman has undergone a creative face-lift. With the arrival of the new Everyman creative director, Suba Das comes a new chapter in the venue’s traditional panto, that sees a completely new creative team take the helm of this forty-year-old festive favourite.
Tinkering with such tradition is always a risk, but if it works then brilliant, sadly that is not the case with Das’ Everyman panto debut. At over three hours long Red Riding Hood, more than outstays its welcome. No pantomime should ever be this long, arguably if the pantomime is firing on all cylinders, then the run time may be excused, but… it can’t be stated lightly this is arguably the worst pantomime the Everyman Theatre has staged in the last decade.
Starting off with Peter Rowe’s lacklustre adaptation of the tale – not including the over-long run time, the show just falls flat. When you think, the story is coming to an end, another random twist is added, which makes the story even more convoluted than it needs to be. One also needs to point out that if you were to take the wolf (a heavily underused Damen James) out of the story being presented then the show would almost certainly be the same show – that’s how insignificant the role of the wolf appears to be, pushed aside for a “cost of living” villain which lacks any real menace (Jennifer Hynes) – do we really need reminding how tough times are?
Red Riding Hood isn’t helped by some strange directorial decisions by Das which sees wobbly polka dot strewn sets (Grace Smart) hinder performers, superfluous use of gauze just to project a “Lewis’s” sign (surely this could have been flown?) Weak slapstick routines and a distinct lack of pace that ensure audiences’ attention dwindles very quickly.
It’s a shame as this is clearly a talented cast, that have sadly been steered down the wrong path by its creative team and are left trying to hold up a very damp squib of a show. Paislie Reid is a delight as Red Riding Hood, especially coming into her own during musical numbers and showcasing her excellent beatboxing. Ben Welch as Grandma Millicent Merry is fantastic and brings plenty of much-needed energy into every scene. His rendition of Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ being a serious show-stopper. What is heavily disappointing is the underuse of Everyman favourite Adam Keast after 20 years of Christmas productions at the Pantomime, find him shoe-horned into just a few short scenes.
As Pantomimes go, this one is overlong, overwritten and overly disappointing.
Runs until 14 Jan 2023