Beowulf: An Epic Panto ★★★★ King's Head Theatre | Nov 26, 2021 - Jan 8, 2022


Charles Court Opera always offers a fun-filled, high energy Christmas spoof, and Beowulf meets the high standard that the troupe sets for itself. The Old English epic gets the full pantomime treatment which should delight those who've been subjected to it in school as well as those who might be less familiar. This Beowulf is rather ambivalent about both his quest and his feelings toward his comrade, Wiglaff, and, it turns out he never met a monster whom he didn't like. As usual CCO has some clever song parodies like "My Name Is" and "Party Like It's 600 AD." Move over Slim Shady and Prince! There are also lots of outrageous puns and some well honed moves. David Hulston's choreography was a delight in itself, and John Savournin's direction kept the fun going at just the right pace. Matthew Kellett did a delightfully comic turn as our hero and he sang well despite a cold on the night we saw the show. Emily Cairns is excellent as the lovestruck Wiglaff, and your heart has to go out to Philip Lee's doleful Grendel – particularly with a mother like Jennie Jacobs. The latter's comic timing is impeccable and with her inspired buffoonery she came close to stealing the show. The fifth member of the troupe, Julia Mariko Smith, brought a beautiful voice and a strong presence to the role of Princess Hrothmund, and we particularly liked the duets she sang with the other women in the cast. While not an overtly Christmassy show, the final message of tolerance and peace certainly captured the seasonal spirit. We saw the "adult" version, but we're sure the "family" rendition is equally enjoyable. We highly recommend you join the quest!

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Craig Fuller.

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