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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – New Wimbledon Theatre, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer: Alan McHugh

Director: Jonathan Kiley

The good news is that after last year’s disappointing Dick Whittington, starring Shane Richie, the panto at Wimbledon seems to have got its mojo back. Snow White doesn’t quite reach the heights of 2011 when Dame Edna Everage graced the stage, but Lee Mead, Ruthie Henshall, Matthew Kelly and the indomitable Dick & Dom certainly get close, even if there is too much singing and dancing.

There’s nothing wrong with the singing and dancing, the latter suitably exuberant, but the comedy is sidelined in the first half where everyone seems a little too eager to break out into song. X-Factor alumni Brenda Edwards comes on stage and sings every one of her songs, including her first, like it’s her encore. Henshall, as the evil queen, sings a Billie Eilish number while Mead and Snow White (Hannah Lowther) get to sing a track by The Weeknd. It’s fine, but we’d rather hear more smutty innuendos from Kelly’s pantomime dame or partake in more audience interaction led by Dick & Dom.

Fortunately, the second half finds its feet and here the comedy is stronger. Although no strangers to pantomime, children’s TV presenters Dick & Dom are a million times funnier than their stint last year in Croydon’s Fairfield Hall. They’ve definitely been the recipients of some stardust in the intervening year and their enthusiastic games are easily the highlight of the show. They are boisterously comical and effortlessly charming. What a difference a year makes.

Old school entertainment is provided by John Archer and his magic tricks and comedy harken back to more innocent days of music hall. His world-weary Old Job is the perfect foil to the high-spirited antics of the rest of the cast. His rope-cutting trick supervised by a young volunteer from the audience is a joy. As Mrs Kelly Nightnurse, Kelly and his extravagant frocks are knockout, and it’s just a shame that we don’t get to see more of him. Henshall so clearly relishes her role as the evil Queen Lucretia that it’s easy to overlook the moment when she forgets her rhyming couplet when talking to the magic mirror.

Indeed, the only duff part of this production by Crossroads Pantomimes is how the dwarfs of the title are represented (although in the show they are always referred to as the Magnificent Seven). With today’s more enlightened politics, seeing seven men shuffle around on their knees with fake legs dangling from their torsos is definitely uncomfortable. The Magnificent Seven are as camp as camp can be, but surely there could be more sensitive ways to portray Snow White’s allies in the forest.

Other pantomimes have updated their gender roles, giving more agency to the female characters, but apart from a late twist, Wimbledon has mostly retained the story of arranged marriages and love at first sight. But as always in pantomimes, the story is always secondary to the froth and frolics happening elsewhere on stage. And by the end of the show, it’s impossible not to be swept away by all the good-hearted nonsense that the cast and crew create. This Snow White may not be a classic, but it’s a lot of fun.

Runs until 31 December 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

A lot of fun

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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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