Mission Impudseyble – Review – Bradford Alhambra
Mission Impudseyble – Review
Bradford Alhambra, March 2016
by Sandra Callard
Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre, home to beautiful ballets, glorious musicals and stirring dramas, has opened to Mission ImPUDSEYble. Yes, you did read it correctly. This is the exciting tale of a stolen bone taken by a gang of baddies. They are led by the nasty Dr Feline, intent on world domination (and hideously played by Lee Redwood). The bone is so important to the country that the Queen orders secret agents Ashleigh Butler and Pudsey Butler to track down the villains. They must return the bone to its rightful place in England. They are, of course, successful, mainly due to the derring-do antics of the canine wonder dog Pudsey.
You will remember that Pudsey won Britain’s Got Talent in 2012. The dog won the hearts of the nation into the bargain. He really is the most adorable dog. The rapport between him and his owner and trainer, Ashleigh, is evident. Ashleigh herself has blossomed as a performer since appearing on BGT. She is now an accomplished actor, as well as being tall and beautiful. The girl should do well.
The theatre was full of children and the show is heavily interactive with them. They are asked to become spies with Pudsey to recover the bone. They loved it and shouted out in the best pantomime manner, particularly when the evil Dr Feline hurled insults at them. There were plenty of punches and kicks, accompanied by ear-splitting sound effects. The recipient generally being Dr Feline’s sidekick Karl, a cracking performance by X Factor‘s Stevi Richie.
The special effects are good. The outstanding one being a huge Sand Snake, a colourful cobra-like reptile who fills the stage as it weaves about and stares venomously at the audience. Mums and dads loved this as well as the kids.
The show is obviously aimed at children, but the attempt of a pastiche on James Bond’s world was, I felt, sometimes lost on them. Although the kids very quickly learned the password phrase and shouted it out at each opportunity. The spy boss is not ‘M’, she is ‘P’ which clears the path for numerous puns on the sound that the adults in the audience understand.
Lorinda King carries the two big parts of ‘P’ and Granny McGrath. She is on stage in one or another persona almost constantly. She makes a good job of both, as do the very talented dancers/gymnasts who gyrate about the stage in numerous guises.
The wonder dog, Pudsey, has limited exposure on stage. Despite being the reason the children have come to the show. He really only does his stuff towards the end when he helps retrieve the bone from the baddies. The dog walks up a plank and down the other side, then ‘drives’ a car across the stage. The talented canine dances round on hind legs, he trips up the criminals, then jumps into Ashley’s arms. For a finale he soars triumphantly into the air with Ashleigh on a huge rocket cascading sparks across the stage.
I have doubts as to the ethics of animal performers, and was pleased that Pudsey’s appearances were few. He is obviously a well-loved and intelligent canine, who does appear to enjoy performing, so carry on Pudsey.