Reviewed by Kym Clayton
Written by John Morley – who has in excess of 250 pantomime scripts to his credit – Sinbad the Sailor tells the story of Sinbad’s adventure to release the kidnapped Princess Pearl from the evil clutches of Sinistro the Sorcerer and reunite her with the Caliph of Constantinople to be married. Sinbad’s quest takes him to the island of Nirvana where he must overcome man eating plants, the mighty Roc bird, the cruel Old Man of the Sea, a cannibalistic Witch Doctor, and of course Sinistro!
Director Sue Cherry’s cast of more than twenty is a mix of youth and experience, and on opening night Cherry herself had to step in at the last moment to play the pivotal comic lead role of Tinbad that was temporarily left vacant by an indisposed cast member. With script in hand, and splendidly costumed, she confidently led the enthusiastic cast and kept the production happily sailing along. (Her sigh of relief in the foyer at the conclusion of the show was palpable! Well done Sue! Filling in is never easy.)
Debra Waller was larger than life in the ‘Dame’ role of Mrs Sinbad and relished her silly antics. Brady Gambling was confident as Mustapha and looks very much at home on the stage. Lorren Gartland was suitably innocent and naively heroic as Sinbad. Lindsay Hinksman looked the part as the Old Man of the Sea, but significantly underplayed the role, whereas Kent Trussel overplayed the stuttering Wazir and lost the potential for humour. Lyn Penery gave a dominating and enjoyable performance as the Witch Doctor, and her greatest supporter in the audience was one of her children who proudly announced “that’s my mum”!. Her makeup was suitably exaggerated and garish but entirely appropriate for pantomime. There was potential for other cast members also to be strongly made-up. Shaun Taylor was exuberant as Sinistro and evoked the requisite amount of hissing and booing from the audience.
Unusually, and creditably, the show was jam packed with original songs and music by local creative duo Sue Oldknow and Mark Hallam. The only ‘borrowed song’ was Rock Around the Clock. Most cast members would have benefited from a lesson or two in how to sing into a microphone, rather than tentatively sing at it.
Janet Jauncey’s simple set was colourful, and Cherylene O’Brien and Violet Rowe’s costumes were excellent. The lighting design was basic and would have benefited from additional specials rather than a reliance on general wash.
The show was long, and ran for nearly three hours — it could have done with a severe edit. Cueing was generally slow on opening night, and some of the younger (and not so younger) cast members seemed tentative, but this should improve as the season progresses. The whole production needs to be louder and pacier.
However, the opening night performance was greeted enthusiastically by a loyal audience, and the kids and adults alike got right into the spirit of the event and never for a moment wished instead they were at home watching a different royal wedding on TV!