Red Riding Hood
Written by Roger Hall
Directed by Susan Wilson
Nov 15 – Dec 27 & Jan 2- 17
At the opening night of Roger Hall’s Red Riding Hood at Circa, I was promised by a friend beforehand that I was in for a treat. With likable characters, cheerful songs and jokes for all ages, I have to agree that Red Riding Hood certainly was a treat.
Directed by Susan Wilson, Red Riding Hood busts out all the witty banter and gags which have kept pantomime such a popular theatre form. The mantle of the dame (aka dude in drag) is donned by Julian Wilson playing Grandma Hood. Wilson unfolds himself as a true master of the dame, demonstrating early in the show a jocular flair in his lighthearted banter with the audience.
Grandma is helped out by her daughter Mother Hood (played by Donna Akersten) and in turn her daughter Red Riding Hood (played by Danielle Mason), the heroine of the show. Both are astute performers, but Mason in particular injects a glow into her role which reverberates throughout the whole play. Red Riding Hood’s love interest, the DOC worker Lance, is played by Nic Sampson, who proves to be one to watch in the future.
Of course, no pantomime could be complete without the villain. Much to the delight of a keen and vocal crowd, the Big Bad Wolf makes various exciting appearances…but perhaps the real villain is Sir Roger Bounder, an eager property developer played with comic delight by Gavin Rutherford.
Yet my favourite characters of the evening were easily Morris and Boris, played by Jane Waddell and Jude Gibson respectively. Their overblown physical performances, often clown-like, are some of the best examples of physical comedy I have seen in Wellington this year.
The cast are fairly well supported by the show’s design features. The costumes are easily the most striking component and here Paul Jenden is clearly in his element. Built upon increasingly abundant reds, the costumes are consistent in lifting the tone and mood of the show. Although the set is a bit disappointing, it is beautifully lit by Jennifer Lal with greens and blues which offset the rich reds of Jenden’s costumes.
Pantomimes are a great way to introduce kids to the magic of theatre, and Red Riding Hood is easily the ideal Xmas outing for the holidays this year.