Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Review – Hull New Theatre
By Karl Hornsey, December 2021
These may still be fraught times for theatres across the land, but if there’s one thing to bring a smile to the faces of all involved, it’s the return of panto after the sad cancellation of last year’s productions. And this year at Hull New Theatre it’s the turn of that perennial favourite Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Or Snow White and the Magnificent Seven as it turned out – but more on those chaps a little later.
It’s fair to say that this version is about as far removed from the Grimm Brothers’ original dark fairytale as you could possibly imagine, and imagination is certainly the key word for a production that includes all manner of shenanigans, including a Lip Sync Battle, a lengthy tongue twister sketch involving three of the cast, and enough fart gags to last us all another 12 months. All of which were lapped up by children and adults alike, with the audience participation not dampened even in these socially distanced times.
While former Coronation Street actress Faye Brookes filled the lead role of the beautiful princess hoping to woo her man Prince Harry of Humber, it was a returning favourite who kept the show and the plot (such as there was) on track. Neil Hurst stole the show in 2019, starring as Aladdin’s brother Wishee Washee, and an enforced break from the stage hasn’t dimmed his comedic talents.
Here he plays Muddles, a loveable fool and friend of Snow White, whose principal role is to keep the kids in the audience as engaged as possible through the two-hour show, while lobbing in lashings of absolute filth for the adults, including a seriously near-the-knuckle sketch based on a selection of favourite chocolate bars and sweets.
“Wonderfully comic moments”
Ably assisting Muddles in his work is panto legend Nigel Ellacott as Nurse Nigella, whose array of dazzling costumes have to be seen to believed, and whose ongoing flirtation with audience member Chris from Cottingham kept a stream of gags flowing all evening. And, this being 2021, the Seven Dwarves became the Magnificent Seven instead, providing some wonderfully comic moments as they negotiated around the stage, especially in the hilarious scene before the interval which could easily have ended in absolute carnage.
With established musical stage star Poppy Tierney on menacing form as the evil Queen Lucretia, there’s something for everyone in this bonkers and chaotic evening, that goes a long way to proving that the spirit and tradition of the festive panto remains very much alive and kicking.
‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ is at Hull New Theatre until 2nd January
images: Ant Robling