REVIEW: Priory Theatre's depth of talent showcased in Babes in the Wood on Kenilworth stage

Kenzie Webley, Adam Shumacher, Paul Sanders and Jemima Brown in Babes in the Wood
Kenzie Webley, Adam Shumacher, Paul Sanders and Jemima Brown in Babes in the Wood

Charles Essex reviews Babes in the Wood at the Priory Theatre, Kenilworth

The Priory Theatre has a real depth of talent to call on and switching from the year-round fare of drama, murder mysteries and comedies to pantomime allowed different and younger talent to excel.

Writer, director and leading dame (Doris) Adam Schumacher is an experienced pantomimist that The Priory was fortunate to be able to call upon. He wrote a pantomime version of Babes in the Wood in 2010 but virtually rewrote the script which gave it a welcome freshness, apart from the Brexit jokes which already seemed a little dated. He was accompanied by Liam Hogan (Boris), who had stepped in at two weeks’ notice and was word perfect, a wonderful sparring partner in the witty dialogue and banter. Both Alan and Liam played the audience well and were brilliant with the children on stage. Alan showed his experience of stage craft and helped to seamlessly cover any first night hiccups.

Kenzie Webley, a graduate of the Stagecoach theatre company, gave a strong performance as leading boy Han. Jemima Brown as Greta would have benefited from more amplification during her dialogue, which only seemed to be turned on for the songs. Both Kenzie and Greta however showed a confidence that belies their ages.

The chorus of 14 of a range of ages performed all their choreographed routines well. When Doris and Boris ‘forgot’ the plot and which pantomime they were in, it allowed a clever homage to several fairy stories as the chorus appeared as various characters until we got back on track.

Paul Saunders showed his theatre experience as villainous Uncle Silas supported by henchmen Gus (Marcus Ridley) and Bill (Rob Williams). This production has a long run over the Christmas period and the packed house enjoyed this as a real antidote to the dismal weather.

* Babes in the Wood runs until January 5. Visit www.priorytheatre.co.uk or call 0333 666 3366 to book.