Ricky Whittington and His Cat at New Diorama Theatre
Ricky Whittington and His Cat is a pantomime with a twist by Fight in the Dog, a new company committed to combining comedy and theatre so as to offer the best of both worlds. Their latest production takes inspiration from the infamous tale of Dick Whittington, and although the mood is that of Dickensian times, the protagonist of this show seeks his fortune in present-day London. The audience is invited to question the viability of such a plan as every character is keen to point out the potential adversities of living in the Big Smoke.
Performed by a talented ensemble, the piece is set off by unconventional narrator Pig Pam, a feisty blonde lady flirting with the room and played by a brilliantly engaging David Elms. Pig Pam sets the mood by making it clear that traditional pantomime features will be rejected. She then introduces Ricky (Charlotte Ritchie), a small-town lad headed for the capital, who is adorably awkward and a little slow. His grumpy travelling companion Cat (Omar Ibrahim) debuts by asking theatregoers to accept his human form, and goes on to express his general discontent with life.
London looks unpromising from the very start. Unemployment, gentrification, unaffordable rents and unpaid internships are just some of the obstacles they encounter. The biggest issue at hand, however, is a suspicious rat infestation getting out of control. Ricky finds himself in the middle of a mayor election, falls in love with cynical candidate Alice (Ellie White) and eventually comes face to face with the mastermind behind it all, the King Rat (Rob Carter). Meanwhile, a mystery character baffles the audience with a futuristic number reprised at random points.
This is a genuinely entertaining show with a cast that is easy to warm up to. Ritchie shines as the clueless Ricky and Rob Carter presents a first-rate villain by exaggerating King Rat’s evil traits to the limit, with hilarious results. There is also an unlucky lady whose house is knocked down by a wrecking ball, played by Rosa Robson, who offers an amusing Mary Poppins spoof. Also in the cast is Emily Lloyd-Saini who impersonates another familiar London figure: the miserable bartender.
The atmosphere is created through the projection of cartoon-like images on the back wall, representing the setting of each scene. There is no lack of outlandish headgear and the props are mainly cardboard cut-outs that replace real objects. The production may be low in budget but there is no compromise in terms of talent. Alternative pantomimes are becoming an exciting addition to the traditional sort, and this show is an excellent choice for a wonderfully jolly night out.
Ricky Whittington and His Cat is at New Diorama Theatre from 16th December 2016 until 7th January 2017, for further information or to book visit here.