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A review by Carmen Nasr for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Charles Court Opera in association with The Rosemary Branch Theatre presents


Beowulf - The Panto!



Directed by John Savournin


Musical Direction by James Young


Rosemary Branch Theatre


9 Dec 2011 – 8 Jan 2012


With six years of experience now tightly under their belt, Charles Court Opera certainly have more than a knack for packing the grandiose onto the very smallest of London’s stages. With their ambitions steadily on the rise, it comes as no surprise that their most recent venture is no less than transforming one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon epic literature into a giddy, frivolous pantomime. Yes, you guessed it - it’s an all-singing, all-dancing, cross-dressing Beowulf – and as far as pantos go, it’s a boutique treat!

With all the narrative ingredients of a classic panto, Beowulf is a heroic warrior who arrives at the court of King Hrothgar to defeat the gruesome half-monster Grendel, who has been terrorising the King and his young daughter Princess Hrothmund. Accompanied by comic side-kick Wiglaf, with a monstrous dragon to defeat and a delightfully camp Dame in Grendel’s Mother, Beowulf’s adventures enter effortlessly into the realm of the ridiculous.

Alongside traditionally destructive renditions of the odd pop song and garish eighties ballads, Charles Court Opera’s cast of classically trained singers also throw in a little bit of operatic class from time to time, giving this pantomime a musical edge over its larger rivals. The Eaton-Young Piano Duo and drummer Ben Calvert pack in even more musical punch with their wonderful mini orchestra.

With a chorus of puppets popping out of dragon poo, an electric guitar solo from Kevin Kyle’s bravely naïve Beowulf, a steady stream of suggestive innuendos and  mischievous audience participation, the production certainly lives up to the company’s promise to scale ‘new heights of sublime silliness’.

Director John Savournin’s turn as panto dame provided most of the laughs and frolics, while Philip Lee as her hybrid monster son was the perfect side-kick, appearing with increasingly ridiculous kitchen utensils in place of his missing arm in almost every scene. So if you’re looking for some ludicrous pantomime action this Christmas, give Beowulf a try – you never know, you might even get a foam pie thrown in your face.


Box office:  02077046665
Rosemary Branch Theatre
2 Shepperton Road, London, N1 3Dt
7:30pm and 3pm on a selection of dates (see website)
£17/£15 concession
3pm matinees £12/£10 concession



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