HOLD ONTO YOUR hat and adjust your sunglasses! The end-of-year pantomime for 2018 is everything you need to see you firmly into the silly season. This rendition of Snow White, within the pantomime rubric is loud and bold, funny and clever, slick and quick, and rude, of course, and it will leave you in a holiday mood immediately.
With several magic ingredients, it’s a rollicking monster of a production that sees former 702 personality, John Robbie as Norman Knockiknees, the Major Dumb-Ou, with eyebrows to blush for and a script hand-tailored for him and his established phrases to say nothing of his rugby acumen. Another delightful cameo is Dolly Louw as Miss Peppa-Passionella Piggy, a role which she dignifies with gusto, allowing her voice to fill the auditorium with authority. Not to forget Sne Dladla and Noni Mkhonto as Dudu and Dompie, the story’s helpers, who bring hilarity and wisdom.
And while we’re on the subject of voice, the sound in this work is tip-top, with the single exception of the character who performs as the mirror; the lyrics and words of this pantomime are clear, quick and very funny. Yes, there’s marketing involved, but it doesn’t muddy the narrative or the funnies at all, and it’s tucked neatly into the panoply of other local references.
But then, there’s the queen herself. Modelled on the evil queen in Disney’s film version of this story, she’s performed by Ben Voss, who ramps the drag character he’s been evolving for the last several years, all the way to the top. She feels like something out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show with a shot of British rock band Queen in her belly, and bearing the name Queen Hildegonda Hurl-A-Lot, what more can you wish for?
Desmond Dube is the dame in a frock made of smarties and chutzpah, and a script that weaves together political rhetoric and faux-pas that reaches all the way to SARS. Which brings us to the main characters: the septet of dwarves features big stage names such as Matt Counihan, Oscar Buthelezi and Nicol Sheraton. Their vertical challenges are framed with big shoes, bent knees and rounded backs – no one’s tarting around on their knees as we’ve seen in previous shows of this stripe.
And the eponymous young lady who gets her prince (Tshepo Ncokoane) is the wonderful Kiruna-Lind Devar, who breaks previous leading lady roles deliciously. She’s beautiful and talented but doesn’t become prissy and boring in her values. Often it is the evil characters that are the showstoppers, but in this production, it’s everyone.
The work is replete with ‘oh-no-you-don’t’s and ‘oh-yes-you-do’s and audience participation by way of incentives to boo at the baddies, a singalong and a whole chunk of jelly tots tossed audience-wise. And there are still, as is the panto’s wont, lashings of strobes that pepper the work, and a moment where the lights focus directly into audience eyes. You get your 3-d specs as you enter the theatre, but they will not protect you from these lightning bolts. With bits and pieces that may feel anachronistic, the work is a rollercoaster with a sliver of ice-skating and lots of 3-d technological drama after the interval, that will strip you of all your inhibitions as you bellow and shriek and duck spiders and ghosts that reach directly for you, in your seat.
In short, this year’s panto really does fit the bill it promises in being not only the fairest in the land, but the best in many a year. Don’t miss this one.
- Janice Honeyman’s Snow White is written and directed by Janice Honeyman. It features design by Graham McLusky (lighting), Nicol Sheraton (choreography), Akhona Bozo (sound), Coenraad Rall (musical direction), Bronwen Lovegrove (costume coordination), Delene Holt and Marina Williams (additional costumes) and Ingrid McIntosh (additional headdresses and props), and is performed by Oscar Buthelezi, Matt Counihan, Kiruna-Lind Devar, Sne Dladla, Desmond Dube, Daniel Geddes, Émil Haarhoff, Dirk Joubert, Saxola Ketshengane, Sebe Leotlela, Dolly Louw, Namisa Mdlalose, Noni Mkhonto, Tshepo Ncokoane, Sabelo Radebe, Senzesihle Radebe, John Robbie, JP Rossouw, Kaylan Sabbadin, Nicol Sheraton, Nkanyiso Shezi, Lindo Sithole, Sarah-Ann van der Merwe and Ben Voss, accompanied by a live band under the leadership of Dale-Ray Scheepers (keyboards), with Silas James Naicker (keyboards), Deon Kruger (guitar), Christi-Louise Swanepoel (bass) and Ciaran de Chaud (drums), at the Nelson Mandela Theatre, Joburg theatre complex, Braamfontein, until December 23. Call 086-167-0670.