Review: ★★★★ Nativity Pantomime, The King’s Head Theatre

Charles Court Opera charms us with their thirteenth boutique pantomime this year, chock-full with innuendos, one-liners and of course, cracking vocals. In this tale, we follow elf couple, Mary (Meriel Cunningham) and Joseph (Matthew Kellett) and their anxiety-ridden, flightless reindeer, Rudolph (Emily Cairns) as they protect Mary’s unborn immaculate conception; future Elf King, Father Christmas. However, evil Jack Frost (Jennie Jacobs) has other plans, as he maintains his icy grip on the Elf King crown…

Set designer, Rachel Szmukler transforms the Kings Head Theatre into a dazzling winter wonderland with a gingerbread, candy-cane aesthetic. We meet Mary, Joseph and Rudolph who greet us with a power-house of operatic vocals. The show takes a little while to warm up, but ironically it begins to thaw when villains, Jack Frost and Snowflake take to the stage. Played by Jennie Jacobs and Catrine Kirkman, they begin with a hilarious rap about how badass they are, and continue to add comic relief throughout the show.

Of course, the three kings do a great job delivering the comedy; Russian King Pin, British King Size, and French King Key live up to their glorious stereotypes, with King Pin especially raking in the big laughs with his gags about potatoes and Lidl vodka. His song with Rudolph – a rendition of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ with slightly different lyrics, is a solid section of the show.

Audience participation is well-timed and really good fun. A couple of members of the audience are invited to help make breakfast at the ‘Holly Day Inn’ after the cast break into their version of Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’: “I wanna (huh), I wanna (huh), I wanna (huh), I wanna (huh) I wanna really really really want some avo on toast”. It’s evident that writer John Savournin and lyricist David Eaton put some real thought into their choices for this show, and the imaginative twist on the classic nativity narrative is proof of this.

If you’re looking for a funny adult panto with some catchy songs and top vocals to match, then give this one a try this festive season!


Tess Kennedy

Tess Kennedy
Tess Kennedy

Tess Kennedy moved to London to be closer to her first love: theatre. It’s just a coincidence that she’s also now much closer to her second love, Idris Elba. During the week, Tess is a Social Media Manager, but in her spare time she enjoys reading, singing, yoga, pina coladas — although she can take or leave getting caught in the rain. Tess has been writing for Upper Circle since January 2019, where she’s seen more Fringe than Jonathan Van Ness, as well as plenty of one-woman-shows and musicals. Although she’s a big fan of the musical genre, Tess draws the line at Cats. That’s not because she’s a dog person though – Tess loves her family cats more than most humans – it’s because the visual of Idris Elba meowing in a skintight leotard gave her paws for thought.


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