Dick Whittington

Castle Players  Lytchett Matravers Village Hall, Lytchett MatraversJill Richmond 19 January 2024

Castle Players have been performing pantos since 1978 and I’ve heard for years on the local amateur dramatic grapevine that they are good fun but have never been to one until tonight. Linsey O’Neill wrote, directs and performs in this very creative and jolly adventure packed with family jokes and a variety of entertainment. Without ruining the plot, we see Dick Whittington and his cat on a journey unlikely to have been seen before.

Karis England as Dick Whittington plays the lead role naturally with an innocence and kindness that creates an understated strength drawing you to the character at every opportunity. This is Karis England’s first role with Castle Players and I’m sure we will be seeing her again.

Dick Whittington is accompanied by his cat Tommy, played endearingly on opening night by Charlotte Haworth. Ella Burdon will take on the role interchangeably on alternate performances with Charlotte Haworth. On opening night Ella Burdon demonstrated that some rats can be lovely and performed alongside the comical Ben and Dover (Beverley Smith and Kim Burdon-Thompson). Both provide a good energy to the stage and Kim Burdon-Thompson is particularly entertaining in her not making a noise and magic scene.

The rats are led by the perfectly snarly King Rat (strongly performed by Mark Lancaster) – the villain of the night! Booooo! As King Rat wants Dick Whittington and his cat off the scene, Fairy Bowbells (Becki Lavender) is there to help Dick Whittington, armed with a range of headgear and lots of sparkle and charm and of course a magic wand.

Steve Moore plays the Dame Sarah the Cook with relish! I laughed a lot. A fantastic role played well.

Richard Owen is well cast as Alderman Fitzwarren, his vocal acting is exceptional. With the help of a tired Idle Jack (Phil McMullen), Alderman Fitzwarren wants to get rid of the rats and also Dick Whittington… once Dick has set eyes on his daughter, Alice (Mollie Burdon)! The relationship between Dick and Alice works well and their duet of the Friends theme tune is one to look out for. They are both good singers, with Mollie Burdon providing a powerful and beautiful voice for a number of the other songs as well. The full cast and chorus songs showcase the number of good voices throughout the group.

To give you a clue about the story, Pete Bennett plays Captain Seagull and Val Holland, Queen of the Cannibals! They both provide entertainment, particularly Captain Seagull’s on parade scene, as do Steve O’Neill and Sarah Peacock in the chorus.

The sets are all creatively designed and the direction allows for good visual movement across the stage. The underwater scene is a particular highlight!

There are refreshments available and a raffle draw during the interval. There’s ample parking and cushioned seats!  You may even get to do a bit of singing!

If you want to see this well written, funny and creative panto further performances are on Saturday 20 January (2:30 pm and 7:30 pm), Friday 26 January (7:30 pm) and Saturday 27 January (2:30 pm and 7:30 pm).