With 101 Dalmations and Swallows And Amazons, Bristol is well served this Christmas with tip top, terrific, family shows. Dick Whittington, the Hippodrome's glitzy glamorous pantomime doesn't live up to those works but does possess one of the best double acts you will see in panto anywhere this year.
Eric Potts, as writer, director and dame is the Orson Welles of the panto world. His script is as traditional as they come, good vs evil, a fair chunk written in rhyming couplet, love at first sight and enough puns to fill a bathroom book or two. He strays (just about) the right side of family fun, the scene with a sausage that keeps rising keeping the more dirty minded audience in stitches even whilst sailing over the heads of the young 'uns. His work as the dame is even better, from first entrance the costumes get more garish-the bikini he sports in the second half is etched on my retina for years to come- the rapport with his audience gets stronger. He is a master of the dame, a force of nature, someone who has been there done that and so uses that experience to hold the audience in the palm of his hands.
He is ably assisted by Andy Ford, a six year veteran of the Bristol panto and whose West Country vowels work perfectly with the local references dotted around Potts' script. Though his voice sounded tired on press night his charm and élan make him the perfect link man from his first entrance to Megan Trainor's ‘All About That Bass' to the community song which has the audience up on their feets, prepared to be as silly as he is. If he continues to grace the Hippodrome stage' for many more years we'll have to clamour for him to get a freedom of the city.
These two performances are so bright that they rather mask some of the underpowered performances found in the rest of the cast. Brenda Edwards only shows her big voice that took her from the X Factor to Chicago and We Will Rock You in the curtain number, Ben Faulks (CBB's Mr Bloom) has a pleasant voice as Dick but his romance with Ashlee Butley's Alice is not as charming as her Britain's Got Talent's winning dog Pudsee's tricks are.
The Bristol Hippodrome has produced the biggest Christmas show in the South West this Christmas but even with a powerhouse double act at its core I'd suggest a trip to the Old Vic or Tobacco Factory instead.