Review: ★★★★ Potted Panto, Garrick Theatre

Potted Panto takes you on a hilarious ride, quite literally, through 7 of the nations’ best loved pantomimes. An interactive, energetic and eccentric experience for the entire family.

The Christmas excitement begins as soon as you enter the Garrick to your favourite Christmas tunes. Daniel Clarkson and Garry Trainor burst onto the stage. They create an enigmatic atmosphere which never falters in 70 minutes of pantomime fun. Garry acts as the panto expert and true fan whilst Daniel is none the wiser to panto traditions. This contrast creates a hilarious comedy duo. The actors explore and subvert the tropes of pantomime such as the ‘behind you’ routine and the power of a ‘true love kiss’. Garry is keen to stay true to tradition, yet Dan sees the nonsensical nature of it all and either overrides with his own wacky idea or takes the slapstick comedy to the extreme. A delicious subversion of form.

Garry anchors the story, playing every single narrator and all the main parts from Sleeping Beauty to Snow White! The expertly handled multi rolling is a joy to watch. Notably, Garry plays Dick Whittington in a satirical fashion. We see him transform into the prime minister and what follows are plenty of opportune jokes – Daniel, also co-creator, has a real skill keeping comedy live and current for the London audience.

The production relies on the actors performance and script. Formerly Oliver nominated for Best Entertainment, writers Daniel Clarkson, Jefferson Turner and Richard Hurst live up to the expectation created by their previous accolade. The script is funny and skilfully gives the actors freedom to keep a spirit of improvisation alive which Daniel especially runs with. I understand the production values are low to suit its ‘Potted’ nature, however this is taken too far. The actors and audience would benefit from some clearer investment into production across the board.

Nevertheless, co-stars Garry and Daniel carry the show; Gary has extensively toured with the sister show ‘Potted Potter’ worldwide and played Dewey Finn in ‘School of Rock the Musical’ West End original cast and US tour. Daniel has been involved in the Potted family from its conception including Potted Potter, Potted Pirates and the latest Potted Sherlock. Clearly seasoned professionals, their genuine love of comedy comes alive.

Potted Panto aims to incite fun and Daniel and Garry work with several different tactics to achieve this. The aforementioned satire is a clear winner with the adults in the auditorium. Yet, there are plenty of visual gags and mischievous jokes throughout for the kids. Resonating particularly well are Daniel’s renditions of the fairies in Sleeping Beauty, all half puppet half Daniel with a distinct voice and the rapping rat in Dick Whittington. Audience interaction is a huge feature of Potted. They dance with individual audience members and cajole the entire audience to ride a giant imaginary sleigh. Panto features are consistently extremified. They throw items into the audience to ensure we fully immerse in the crazy experience. Interaction makes the show feel intimate, you are never far away from Garry and Daniel and their enjoyment radiates.

In true Christmas spirit, Potted Panto incites a mutual exchange of festive delight between actor and audience.

Potted Panto is at the Garrick Theatre from Saturday 11 December, 2021 – Sunday 9 January, 2022.

 

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Charlotte Smith
Charlotte Smith

Charlotte Smith an actor based in London and Surrey. She began writing for the Upper Circle whilst at University and she is currently at doing her MA in Acting at GSA. Charlotte has always loved the creative arts; from acting, singing, working as a workshop leader and writer in residence. As
a Lancashire girl, Charlottes’ most memorable theatre moment is anything at the Royal Exchange, her all time favourite venue for innovative, creative and exciting shows.

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