King Arthur in Space by Loz Keal
Teddington Theatre Club
Hampton Hill Theatre - 10 December 2019
Review by Matthew Grierson
When England’s need is greatest, King Arthur will rise again. And so – long, long ago and yet somehow in the future, as the scrolling, Star Wars-style intro wittily puts it – Arthur King is roaming the stars in search of the evil Mrs Morgan, who has fled the Earth she has despoiled and polluted.
I hope this précis is of benefit to the mums and dads too busy settling their kids in to have picked it up, because it’s about as much plot as King Arthur in Space provides. I bring this up as I overheard two parents during the interval trying to puzzle out what was actually going on, which gave me occasion to think about how much narrative you want in your panto.
Certainly the production offers plenty of the expected spectacle, with high-energy dance numbers hot on the well-drilled heels of one another. These vary from big troupe deployments and graceful brawls to a ballet solo by choreographer Kelly-Marie Tuthill, which accompanies a tender romantic rendition of ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’. Given that the songs span everything from Queen to S Club 7 to Billie Eilish, there is something for every generation to sing along to, the lyrics slyly seasoned with outer-space references to bring them into the spirit of the play. Even more impressive than this range is Jessica Hunt’s own in her singing as Gwen, keeping the energy up through the show.
The other performances, if not all of the singing, are largely as peppy as this. Highlights are Nicky Shaw as cheery principal boy Lance and Anna Strain as reluctant baddy Wainga, who are destined for a bipartisan romance – despite the dastardly machinations of Danielle Thompson, chewing the scenery as Mrs Morgan, and Dave Dadswell as the equally dastardly if dim-witted Dredmor. Naomi Pink gives a cute turn as robot D4-QP, while Juanita Al-Dahhan takes good care of Dame duties as Dotty. Only Scott Tilley as Arthur is a little less forceful than you’d imagine; but this does allow for a neat reversal of cliché when he’s captured by Mrs Morgan and Gwen has to marshal his crew to rescue him.For full reviewhttp://markaspen.com/2019/12/08/king-a-space/