Kate Kennedy Pantomime: Five Discover Each Other
Dir. Christy White-Spunner
Venue 1, Thursday 6th December
**

Silly, yet distinctly unfestive, this year’s Kate Kennedy Christmas pantomime re-envisions the Famous Five, still twelve years old, taking down drug barons and other crime lords in the here and now. When their recently incarcerated arch-rival, Vendito Manus (Casey Larson), escapes and steals Enid Blyton’s typewriter, the gang must crack the case before being re-written into disaster.

Director and Writer, Christy White-Spunner presents us with what is overall a well-written show with a compelling premise. There were many excellent one-liners, and the musical numbers were both imaginative and hilarious. It is a shame that it is let down by sloppy performances and aimless direction.

Though most of the Five themselves delivered adequate, if not mind-melting performances, the quality of their support was close to shoddy. An evidently vibrant script was buried by flat delivery and poorly-observed comic timing.

Equally as flat was the blocking. White-Spunner is a veritable Superman for writing, directing, producing and starring in the show – but he clearly spread himself too thinly to do each of these roles justice. Blocking was reduced to standing in a row, delivering lines. The characters rarely engaged with each other or tried to gain a rapport with the audience, perhaps hoping that they would be carried by the strength of the script.

Particularly cringe-worthy were the several unwelcome instances of various characters hurling sweets into the crowd: a key pantomime trope, but executed with no care for incorporation into the plot, jarring any sense of flow. So, too, with the much hyped ‘dance routine’ – after many promises of a grand dance number from mute Anne (Edward Battle), I was geared up for a spectacle. What I got, however, was a bit of – albeit committed – flailing. It was disappointing and a tad embarrassing.

On occasion I warmed to the the show, but it could never tighten its grip or keep hold. Just as it started to build momentum, it delivered the crushing blow of a ‘happy birthday’ interlude. Though no doubt a lovely gesture to the people it was directed towards, this was irreversibly alienating, shutting the vast majority of the audience out in the cold while a private joke was shared.

The band, on the other hand, was excellent – if sometimes overpowering – and deserves special praise. Certain ‘set pieces’ such as Manus’ control of the characters via typewriter, Timmy (White-Spunner) the dog’s ‘big reveal’, and an Other Guys cameo set a standard of what the show could have been.

A critic for The Stand has asserted that this was ‘one of the funniest things’ she had seen in St Andrews. While I respect her opinion, I believe it was unfair to a great many comic productions of sterling quality that have been staged in recent times. The lads of the KK could have got much more out of the excellent show that they were working with and it would be equally unfair to assume this is the peak of their potential. As it was, however, I most certainly did not leave with a smile on my face.

  • This article was amended on December 11, 2012 to correct the name of the production

10 COMMENTS

  1. I couldn’t dissagree more, whilst the blocking may not have been up to your clearly, artistically trained, thespian eyes, it is after all a student pantomime. It is not meant to be a west end play. I felt it was genuinely hilarious with countless moments that had the entire crowd (bar one sour saint reporter) erupting in laughter. The KK is big, and clearly they are not an acting troupe, so its understandable that the supporting roles won’t be as good, theyre just havingg a bit of fun. it was 100% more than i expected from them. I felt that the standard was amazingly high for what could have easily been a boring, self indulgent pantomime. It was in the end, very well written, well put together, unique, and an extremely fun break from revision. Willing to bet a mince pie that you actually thoroughly enjoyed the show and the bad review is only because your jumping on the ‘i hate the KK’ bandwagon. Santa’s brining you coal.

  2. i had a bloody good time:
    – mince pie; check.
    – banter; check
    – all 4 of the stand’s BNOC’s present in the audience/play… BLOODY CHECK.

    sick.

  3. I thought this was an excellent and honest review, even though I do not agree with all of it. Part of the problem with St Andrews is that, because it is so small, honest reviews of the type Cunningham has provided are scarce. The Stand, with its more active social media presence, generally provides little in the way of critical feedback of any of the events or plays it reviews. This is a shame although it is to be expected. Reviews like this are an important part of developing St Andrews’ critical eye, so when something really is brilliant it is not overlooked or grouped together with mediocre events or plays. Talent deserves to be recognised.

  4. While I agree with some of your comments, I think you probably missed the point of the panto. Like someone has already pointed out, the KK are not an acting troupe. The aim was to get people laughing (which it definitely did), and to raise money for charity (which it did). I know you don’t do so in your article, but no one can deny White-Spunner is a talented writer. The script alone was a pleasant enough surprise to make the whole show a success.

  5. Haters gon’ hate… Bitches pleaseeeeee. It was fun, lighthearted and a much needed break from revision. The KK boys put themselves out there to be laughed at – something which I think was great for their stereotype. If you wanted to see a west-end grade performance then why you thought the KK would deliver this I don’t know. They were not granted entry to the most prestigious and most sought after club north of Oxford (LOL) for their theatrical abilities, but rather their tweed to denim ratio, money in da bank and home county origin (bar the token scando and yanks, obvs). I for one am not lucky enough to know any of these guys personally, but I was LMAO for the vast majority of the performance. Hopefully at some point I’ll meet one of these fine gentlemen – the custodians of tradition – to congratulate them in person for a job well done and hopeful secure my place for a table at the the May ball!! #theballotisnotmyfriend

  6. If you’re going to write an article criticising a good and festive spirited attempt to raise some money for charity it might be a good idea to get the title of said production correct; its “disappointing and a tad embarrassing” really…

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