Review: Puss in Boots at The Theatre Chipping Norton
PUBLISHED: 12:37 15 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:37 15 November 2019
‘Puss in Boots is packed full of uplifting original songs, wonderfully creative costumes and sets, plus plenty of belly laughs.’ The Christmas season has begun for Liz Hartland with the arrival of the annual The Theatre Chipping Norton’s pantomime
For some it's the first time they hear All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey. For others it's the first they see this year's John Lewis advert. For me, the Christmas season truly begins once I've enjoyed Chipping Norton Theatre's annual pantomime and this year's offering is Puss in Boots, by Toby Hulse and under the direction of John Terry.
The story takes place in London in the late 1950s. King Rat and his evil gang of rodents 'the Furm' want to take over the city and it's up to Jack 'The Cat' McVitie, his sidekick Archie Buckle, Tiffany Treacle and Pat M'Bloomers to stop him. And, of course, every pantomime needs a fairy, and Fairy Bowbells (and her various disguises) is the helping hand to Jack's plan of scuppering King Rat's dastardly scheme.
As usual, Chippy Theatre puts an inventive spin on a classic tale. Puss in Boots is packed full of uplifting original songs, wonderfully creative costumes and sets, plus plenty of belly laughs. The idea of poking fun at the traditions of the pantomime with Fairy Bowbells (Jessica Brady) and the cast consistently adhering to the 'Panto Rules' is a great way of celebrating the quintessential pantomime, and bringing all of its charming qualities to the present.
Archie Buckle (Nick Pack) and Tiffany Treacle (Lucy-Jane Quinlan) are the perfect protagonists. The amicable pair are joyful to watch, and I liked that their love story was less sickly sweet than the relationships between the main characters in other classic pantomimes. The eternally cool and collected Jack the Cat (Anna Tolputt), stylishly suited and booted, alongside the glittering Fairy Bowbells, perfectly play the heroes of the story, with us cheering them on up until the end.
King Rat, played by Rowan Talbot, was fantastic as this year's villain. With his exaggerated swagger and thick East End drawl, he was the perfect combination of likeable rogue and despicable scoundrel. He stayed in character throughout his time on stage (even sneaking a whiff of cheese when he thought the audience wasn't looking).
You can't forget Pat M'Bloomers (Ian Crowe), this year's Panto Dame. Cracking costumes, garish make-up, and more innuendo-laden jokes than you can shake a stick at, Pat M'Bloomers kept us laughing throughout.
The Pippins, the young performers from across the Cotswolds, were once again a delight to watch. Filling in as market stall holders, security guards and King Rat's right hand men, they did a great job of supporting the cast and bringing plenty of comedic moments. It was also lovely to see one of the younger members of the audience called upon for conductor duties (and also very funny).
Puss in Boots runs at The Theatre Chipping Norton from November 13-January 12, 2020. For more information, and to book tickets, visit chippingnortontheatre.com.