This year’s panto offering from the imaginative Spike Rhodes and his Drama Queens is billed as a ‘gothic fairytale’ based on the story of Sleeping Beauty and the legend of Maleficent.
The animated opening to the show is a great set up for what’s to come, and a lovely little touch. The two and a half hour show, which is noticeably longer than your ‘average’ panto, features a predominantly strong and fun cast. There are lots of laughs, as well as some dark overtones, of course, which I loved. The comedy pairing of Nurse Onya Nees Nightly (Kara Van-Park) and Queen Vera Hearface (Rose Garden) is a great one. Their love/hate relationship and onstage chemistry is a joy to watch. Another pairing that works well simply because of its sheer charm is that of Fairy Merryweather (Bambi Boo) and Fairy Fauna (Cathy Cream).
The evil and looming presence of the black-hearted Maleficent (Craig erBell) flanked by a lustful and agile raven (Paul Duncan) could have had a smidgen more camp menace but on the whole was played well, with the musical number, Shakespeare’s Sister ‘Stay’ being one of the highlights.
Speaking of highlights, Tanya Hyde who plays various roles, including an absolutely hilarious scene as a baby, really comes into her own in this show, like I’ve never seen before. Some brilliant comic timing and character acting by her from start to finish. A nod to the filthy frog, too, who I wanted more of.
Once Upon a Dream is an adult panto very worthy of the title. Its costumes are a visual treat that are worthy of any large theatre stage up and down the land, let alone a small theatre group based in a humble Clapham bar. The musical numbers are varied and entertaining and the script has just the right amount of pure unadulterated filth and thigh-slapping gags to keep you laughing all night long.
• Two Brewers, 114 Clapham High Street, SW4 7UJ