This is a refreshing and entertaining new take on the classic story that pokes fun at a lot of news events with great effect.
Written by Jonathan Ashby-Rock, this new take on Red Riding Hood does replicate the atmosphere of a proper pantomime – filled with chaos, songs and flamboyant characters that really grab the attention. It is just a shame that with a lack of a live audience some of the jokes can tend to fall slightly flat.
This is of course no one involved with the production’s fault, as Ashby-Rock and Laura Hannawin’s production is suitably lively and engaging in a way that will certainly entertain younger audience members.
Twisting the traditional story in a delightful way, Red Riding Hood is playing detective as she attempts to discover who has been the Big Bad Wolf’s accomplice in killing three princes as well as trying to recapture the Big Bad Wolf himself who has escaped from prison.
The script is (as expected) filled with a lot of in-jokes with regards to Brexit, Coronavirus and the Royal Family that perhaps will go over the younger audiences head but will definitely make their parents smile. Meanwhile for younger viewers there are a few funny chase moments (well choreographed by Sam Spencer-Lane) and physical comedy elements that are socially distanced that will make them chuckle. It just would have been lovely to have some genuine reactions to lift the jokes more – which sadly can’t happen without a live audience.
It is difficult to imagine just how much hard work has gone into creating this pantomime to make it Covid safe and it all works seamlessly. One particular highlight is when the characters get lost in the forest, not understanding how each of them got there before the other is a lovely sequence.
There is no denying also the energy and enthusiasm that is involved with this production – and at times particularly during the first act it feels slightly too frantic. In contrast, the second half it settles down a little bit and works much better as the chaos in granny’s house unfolds.
Meanwhile, the performances from the cast are wonderfully flamboyant, all of them bouncing off each other nicely to capture the spirit of the script. In particular, Daniella Piper as Red Riding Hood offers a lovely controlled performance as she tries to get to the bottom of the mystery and keep all the other characters in line. Elsewhere, a lot of the comedy is provided to great effect by Danni Payne, Emma Powell and Philip Ryder as the three little pigs who squabble delightfully throughout. Rushand Chambers gives a warm and sincere performance as as Huntsman Eric and Jonathan Ashby-Rock is hilarious as the easily confused but occasionally pompous Prince Claus.
Overall, this is a refreshing and entertaining take on the story of Red Riding Hood that provides families a way to still have fun and joy through pantomime this Christmas season.
By Emma Clarendon
Red Riding Hood is available to watch live streamed until the 19th December. It will then be available on demand until the 31st December.