Review: King Tut - A Pyramid Panto
Image: King's Head Theatre
Francesca Fenech - Evelyn
Matthew Kellett - Lord Conniving
John Savournin - Lord Conniving
Philip Lee - Porter/ The Camel
Alys Roberts - Boy/ King Tut
Jennifer Begley - Boy/ King Tut (7 Dec)
Matthew R J Ward - Howard Carter
Boutique Panto Masters Charles Court Opera return to the King's Head Theatre with their latest seasonal offering 'King Tut - A Pyramid Panto'.
A legendary part of London's festive celebrations this is the wackiest pantomime in town.
John Savournin confirmed to perform: 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30 November. 1, 2, 3, 16 (7pm), 20, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 December. 6 (7pm) January.
Panto as a genre is an odd kind of beast because there are certain ingredients which have to be in play, even if we also want to see something new, different and unique as part of the traditional blend.
So, a despicable villain, audience participation and dire jokes all have to be woven into a storyline, otherwise it just wouldn't be panto.
But Charles Court Opera have the necessary track record to make the formula work even if they've strayed this year from the better-known panto tales and opted for something rather more historically exploratory.
The company have become the traditional theatrical fare at the King's Head Theatre during the festive season - this being their eleventh year of providing their boutique panto offering at this address.
The cast - photo by William Knight
John Savournin's refreshingly innovative story gives the likes of Dick Whittington and Cinderella the proverbial boot in favour of a plot loosely focused on Howard Carter's search for King Tutankhamun's tomb.
It's 1922 at the start of this middle-eastern melange and mash-up of history, myth and, frankly, quite a bit of downright nonsense - but that's all part of the blueprint we all expect and love.
Expedition leader Lord Conniving (played with hugely dastardly glee by John Savournin) aims to use a huge jewel called the Eye of Horus and with magical properties to travel back in time to plunder even more of Tutankhamun's mountainous hoard of treasure while the boy pharaoh is still alive and kicking.
Alys Roberts (King Tut) - photo by William Knight
And 'kicking' is the appropriate term here since, when we fetch-up in ancient Egypt, we find Alys Roberts's energetic and spirited King Tut really is kicking, as in the style of an urban, streetwise, street-dancing teen.
There didn't seem to be quite so many big laughs as last year's Pinocchio, but the audience managed to groan just as frequently at the dire jokes - and there are more than enough of them, with groan-inducing crocodile and camel gags aplenty, and a glaringly predictable line about being "in denial" (do I need to explain?).
There is, however, rather more glitz on display this year with dazzlingly sparkly red curtains, and even more sparkle from Mia Walldén's fetching and well-designed costumes, especially as worn by the boy king.
The songs are largely drawn from the realm of pop including, of course, 'Walk Like an Egyptian', and Petula Clark's 'Downtown' gets a look-in, with the lyrics amended to "downstairs" as an explanation of why Howard Carter continually breaks wind (don't ask!).
As you'd expect, this cast are all fine singers who deliver commendable renditions of the popular tunes which provide the basic musical palette.
And the comic timing is pretty-much spot on, with some restrained ad-libbing which I'm sure will mushroom in due course.
Bruce Forsyth puts in an appearance in a fairly lengthy segment where unsuspecting members of the audience are hauled onto the stage to 'play their cards right' and there are some neat and surprising visual gags (including a 'human' chair) which are part of the trademark style of Charles Court Opera's festive offerings.
King Tut doesn't quite get to the point of being raucously funny, but it is nevertheless a polished and suitably potty panto that has all the necessary ingredients for a melodiously mirthful and frivolous night out - especially after a few beverages to lubricate one's vocal chords and banish those restrictive adult inhibitions.
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