Theatre review: Cat’s entertainment of highest order

Damian Williams (Dame) in Dick Whittington
Damian Williams (Dame) in Dick Whittington

Dick Whittington, Sheffield Lyceum Theatre

Before I even got the chance to walk through the Lyceum doors and scream at Dick Whittington to tell him there was a creature behind him, a press release lands in my email folder telling me about next year’s panto, Aladdin.

And again it features exactly the same production team and shining star – namely, or should I say damely, Damian Williams, who has been donning a dress to delight Sheffield festive audiences for the past seven years

Such is the confidence that he will continue his Lyceum dame-ination that the ink has already dried on the contract and the massive Baghdad bloomers are already on order.

But I can testify that this assuredness is not misplaced, as yet again, Mr Williams is in sparkling, tears-of-laughter-inducing form as Dolly the Cook.

His comic timing is second to none and topical gags are rich and abundant

For the uninitiated, Mr Williams is a sort of cross between Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson and the late Warren Clarke and, in my opinion, wouldn’t be out of place in their company either.

But while undoubtedly the star, this is by no means a one-man show.

Erstwhile EastEnders temptress Samantha Womack as Fairy Bow-Bells is given plenty of one-liners by writer/director Paul Hendy and delivers them to great comic effect.
And kids are mesmerised by CBeebies favourite Andy Day as Captain Crabstick, who also gets a share of the punchlines.

Jo Parsons and Gemma Sutton are suitably sugary as the sweethearts, but if I have one criticism it’s that John Barr as King Rat seems not to have been given as many lines as past villains, and also tends to rush the ones he has.

Nevertheless the usual tour de force and the highlight of the year for me.

Dean Mellor