‘Humpty Dumpty: The Eggs Files’ (X-files, get it?) is the latest pantomime by WA’s Tony Nicholls. It amazes me how many theatres pay good Aussie money for UK pantomime scripts when we have a massive selection on our own doorstep from Tony Nicholls. Tony was a senior lecturer in Theatre Studies at Curtain for decades. I must have seen at least two dozen of his treasures – real pantomimes! Written on a couple levels, one for the children with lots of characters that they know and songs they will recognise, along with a show for the parents. The latter is, and should be, a bit blue but nothing that the children will understand. The first joke in this show was from a spaceship crew, “We are in trouble, we have lost all of our shields, even the ones with the little wings on the side”.
The scripts are all crafted to be up to date with digs at the news and the celebrities of the moment.
This wonderful panto is being staged by The Wembley Theatre Company in the Wembley Community Centre, 40 Alexander Street in Wembley.
The performances are at 7.00 pm on Friday nights, with matinées only at 2.00 pm on the Saturday and Sunday until Sunday 6th November.
Scene: somewhere in the universe
Set and props: ingeniously designed with built-in humour, by Suzanne Croston. Space craft, Humpty’s wall, and a jail.
Set construction: A huge amount of work for Suzanne Croston
Backdrop: Fabulous village and mountain scene by Suzanne Croston
Lighting design: Jude Croston packed in plenty of colour and effects.
Soundscape and sound effects: Phil Wolter’s work included spaceships and light-hearted music. He was assisted by Mark Jackson who was the tech. operator
Costumes: Clare Collins and Suzanne Croston, created outrageous outfits. From the silver lurex catsuit, to the scruffy Wott and Knott. Humpty Dumpty was impressive and the costume practical.
Stage crew and curtain operators: Aimee Croston, Karen Ellis, Barbara Harvey, Tracy Richards, Flavie Waters, Graham Davies all swift and efficient.
Make-up: Jordan Jackson has given us, amongst others, the rosy cheeked Dame, a wonderful chicken and the two uglies, Wott and Knott. Princess Glenda and boo hiss, Pangea! (Whose name means ‘the whole earth’, which she intends conquering.
A human looking robot, Humpty Dumpty Hum2Dum2 (Tom Ellis), has gone missing along with secret files that could be used to end the reign of the evil Queen Pangea (Suzanne Croston). In desperation, Prince Jaywalker (Kate Richards), the heroic leader of the rebel forces, sets off to find the Egg.
In panic, Queen Pangea has sent her nasty sons, Wott (Kathy Sampson) and Knott (Alli Hodgen) to get to Humpty first. However, Humpty has crash-landed on Planet Pantomime thus losing his memory. He is invited into the home of local benefactor, Delilah Scaraway (Peter Niblett), known as the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe.
Humpty meets some good friends, Gertie Chicken (Una Kristins), Glenda (Natalie Kettle) and Aladdin (Ella Hardy-Atkins). The two policemen Constable Painting (Gray Ray) and Constable Dull (Grace Garvey) try to help but they are not too bright.
Adele (Marisha Davies) meets one of the spaceship’s crew, handsome Hugo (Samuel Sparkes) and they are instantly in love.
Humpty meets many others like Chew Cracker (Layla Hefferman), the Knave of Hearts (Callum Fairweather), Pizza The Hutt (Mani Dashti) and the Clones (Pierce Brady and Audrey Hodgen) but who can Humpty trust?
The director, Bryce Manning, created several entrance points for the cast. Often taking the actors through or around the audience. The children seated on the floor in front of the stage seemed unfazed whilst mingling with the baddies.
Many of the cast were experiencing their first time on the stage, and yet with Bryce Manning’s superb guidance they all gave us a really outstanding pantomime. Everyone spoke boldly and clearly. They knew their characters and adapted with facial expressions and bodily functions – oh dear, Tony has really got through to me – bodily movements. The dialogue flowed naturally and even some of the younger cast members were interacting with the audience brilliantly. The Dame of the show was once again Peter Niblett, an absolute natural, his rapport being amazing. With Bryce’s direction and Peter’s exuberance, the youngster followed on. The panto was fast and furious.
Then of course you need the heroes, the idiots – Wott and Knott – the useless policemen, the drooling loving couple and the baddies. From the beautiful, but totally ruthless Queen Pangea, Suzanne knew how to push all the children’s buttons, without upsetting or frightening the smallest.
Pantomimes must have fun songs, colour, hilarious outfits, stupidity and allowing the children to feel that they are in control – by shouting ‘behind you’ – without them taking over. One of the best pantos I have seen for some time.
TREMENDOUS. Loads of laughs and groans.