Another year, another Honeyman panto, but where’s the magic?

Another year, another Honeyman panto, but where’s the magic?

Hidden somewhere in the middle of the organised chaos of Janice Honeyman’s latest pantomime is a germ of an idea waiting to emerge.
As the title suggests, ‘Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood’ are two fairy tales cobbled together for this year’s annual outing, which means neither of them is clearly defined because they have no connection to each other.

SHOW: ROBIN HOOD AND THE BABES IN THE WOOD
CAST: IZAK DAVEL, DESMOND DUBE, KATE NORMINGTON, BONGI MTHOMBENI, GRAHAM HOPKINS, LJ URBANI, PHUMI MNCAYI, CANDIDA MOSOMA, JACO VAN RENSBURG, CARMEN PRETORIUS
MUSICAL DIRECTOR: ROWAN BAKKER
CHOREOGRAPHER: NICOL SHERITON
DIRECTOR: JANICE HONEYMAN
VENUE: JOBURG THEATRE UNTIL DECEMBER 30
REVIEWER: PETER FELDMAN

Hidden somewhere in the middle of the organised chaos of Janice Honeyman’s latest pantomime is a germ of an idea waiting to emerge.
As the title suggests, ‘Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood’ are two fairy tales cobbled together for this year’s annual outing, which means neither of them is clearly defined because they have no connection to each other. This is what makes the story muddled and difficult to follow, as well as the sometimes inarticulate vocal delivery of the dialogue and lyrics, which didn’t make the narrative any clearer.

Robin Hood, the Prince of Thieves, is played by Izak Davel, who lacks chemistry, but is blessed with a fine physique.
Robin’s love interest is the pretty Carmen Pretorius as Maid Marian, who can sing, but is never given too many opportunities to do so here. Another impressive singer in the cast is Candida Mosoma, of ‘Sister Act’ fame, cast as Much the Miller’s Son, but again her stage time is limited and she doesn’t get to fully air those wonderful pipes of hers.
Versatile Desmond Dube, as the amiable and rotund Friar Tuck, Phumi Mncayi, as Little John, the ever-present Bongi Mthombeni, as Will Scarlett, and Jaco van Rensburg as Alan-A Daleare, are all added to the frivolous mix, but they provide few memorable moments.

Trying bravely to give the narrative some kind of meaning is Kate Normington, as Silly Sylviana, the Spirit of the Forest. Clad in a green costume and saddled with an Irish accent, she is a tad irritating, floating in and out of the show without real character motivation.

One shining light, though, is Graham Hopkins, displaying a nice change of pace, morphing effortlessly into the role of the irascible villain, Norman the Nasty, the Sheriff of Nottingham.
The two energised babes in the wood, enticed by the prospect of munching on the evil witch’s house made of sweets deep in the forest, are Dale Scheepers (Tokkel) and Kyra Green (Tina), while LJ Urbani is submerged beneath wigs, makeup, and costumes as Dame Emmarentia the (really, really) Ugly, and a witch.
As is the norm, Honeyman’s pantomime is top heavy with popular songs, product placements, and humorous socio-political comments. The costumes, the scenery and the lighting add to the visual attraction.

I have been fortunate enough to see every pantomime that Honeyman and executive producer Bernard Jay have produced at this venue, but this time, I’m sad to say, I was disappointed. It simply lacked one important ingredient: magic!

* Tickets are available by visiting www.joburgtheatre.com, or calling 0861 670 670, as well as through Webtickets and at Pick ‘n Pay stores.
For details of the full schedule and performance times, visit www.joburgtheatre.com.