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Bear with me: Sun Bear @ParkTheatre

If The Light House is an uplifting tale of survival, Sarah Richardson’s Sun Bear gives a contrasting take on this. Sarah plays Katy. We’re introduced to Katy as she runs through a list of pet office peeves with her endlessly perky coworkers, particularly about coworkers stealing her pens. It’s a hilarious opening monologue that would have you wishing you had her as a coworker to help relieve you from the boredom of petty office politics.  But something is not quite right in the perfect petty office, where people work together well. And that is her. And despite her protesting that she is fine, the pet peeves and the outbursts are becoming more frequent. As the piece progresses, maybe the problem lies in a past relationship, where Katy had to be home by a particular hour, not stay out late with office colleagues and not be drunk enough not to answer his calls. Perhaps the perky office colleagues are trying to help, and perhaps Katy is trying to reach out for help. It has simple staging

Small yet perfectly formed: King Tut A Pyramid Panto @KingsHeadThtr

Christmas is coming and so that means that pantomime season is in full swing. Charles Court Opera is back at the Kings Head Theatre with their off-kilter take on the panto genre with King Tut, A Pyramid Panto. Pared back so it’s called a “boutique panto” this one is small but perfectly formed with cheap laughs, a weird plot and some fine singing.

Set in the Valley of the Kings, a small troupe of explorers are about to open up King Tut’s tomb only to find themselves whisked back in time to when King Tut ruled with his pal... Who just happens to be a talking Camel.

Heading up the troupe is the dastardly Lord Conniving (John Savournin), his ward Evelyn (Francesca Fenech) and Carter the explorer (Matt RJ Ward). Alys Roberts as King Tut and Philip Lee as the Camel round out the cast.

For a small cast the plot is mind boggling at times. Carter is in love with Evelyn but can only express his feelings through flatulence. Evelyn wants to be an explorer so goes dresses up as a man. King Tut wants to have fun. Lord Conniving just wants to be well... Conniving... Cue plenty of boos and hisses from the audience determined to enjoy themselves regardless of the story.

But the cast sound terrific under the musical direction of David Eaton. And Savournin as Lord Conniving, bearing a slight resemblance to real life pantomime villain Jacob Rees-Mogg, adds to the amusement. Especially as he dons various increasingly implausible disguises to achieve his conniving aims. The disguise as a very comfy arm chair with a glass of sherry was a particular highlight of the evening.

Adults might have to explain themselves to the younger children why singing a song about a camel toe is so hilarious. And there are enough groan out loud gags to amuse the more innocent members of the audience.

Directed by John Savournin, King Tut - A Pyramid Panto runs until Saturday 6 January. Matthew Keller plays Lord Conniving on select nights during the run. Charles Court Opera is back at the King’s Head Theatre in March 2018 with The Mikado.


Production photos by William Knight

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