REVIEW: Dame for a laugh in Rothbury

Mike Jevons and Robert Famelton as Sarah the Cook and Idle Jack.
Mike Jevons and Robert Famelton as Sarah the Cook and Idle Jack.

Dick Whittington and His Cat, Coquetdale Amateur Dramatic Society, Jubille Hall, Rothbury, Sunday, February 8. Also on Thursday, February 12, to Saturday, February 14 at 7.30pm.

There is nothing like a dame, so goes the song, but throw in her cheeky son as well and you’ve got a cracking comedy double act.

Sarah the Cook and her son Idle Jack – alias Mike Jevons and Robert Famelton – had the audience in stitches at the opening performance of Coquetdale Amateur Dramatic Society’s panto, Dick Whittington and His Cat.

With just the odd seat to spare in the Jubilee Hall, Rothbury, the Sunday afternoon show had it all – comedy, songs, audience participation, a cracking villain and a healthy smattering of local references.

Even the landslip, which has closed one of the roads into Rothbury for two years, got in on the act.

It was described as the UK’s biggest pothole which county councillor Steven Bridgett, who was in the audience, was going to repair himself but he couldn’t get a big enough shovel.

Great stuff.

It’s the local touches that make all the difference to a show like this.

The story is, of course, well known and based on the real-life Richard Whittington, who became Lord Mayor of London.

We follow Dick as he arrives in London, thinking the streets are paved with gold. King Rat hatches a plot against Dick and he is falsely accused of stealing from Alderman Fitzwarren, whose daughter Alice he has fallen in love with.

The action moves to The Good Ship Lollipop, which is wrecked in a storm and our heroes wash up in Morocco for a final face-off between Dick and King Rat.

The story was held together with narration in verse by Fairy Bow Bells (Joan Wilkinson) and her apprentice Laura McTurk.

Linda Milburn as Dick gave a polished performance, ably assisted by Georgia Garrington as cat Tommy.

For me, the star of the show was Heather Farndale as a Geordie King Rat. Clad in black top hat and tail coat, she had just the right mix of menace and pantomime villainy as she delivered her lines – also in verse.

Accompanied by rodent Rambos Gnawbone (Victoria Richardson) and Gnashfang (Robert Howey), the rats’ arrival on stage was greeted by hisses and boos from the audience.

The matinee performance had attracted quite a crowd of youngsters and, although they seemed a little reluctant to join in during the first half, they really got into their stride after the interval with cheers, jeers and cries of ‘behind you’.

Sarah, in an array of increasingly outrageous costumes, and Jack were hilarious and both were quick to ad-lib when very occasionally things didn’t go quite to plan.

The whole cast and chorus put in a terrifically enthusiastic performance of which they should be proud.

This was CADS’ return to pantomime after a successful seven-year run of musicals and musical plays. Directed by Alex Swailes, it was quite a comeback.

You can see Dick Whittington and His Cat from Thursday, February 12, to Saturday, February 14, at 7.30pm at the Jubilee Hall, Rothbury. Tickets cost £7.50, conc £6.50, over fives £4.50. Call 07884 350985.


Joan Wilkinson; Laura McTurk; Heather Farndale; Victoria Richardson; Robert Howey; Bill Wood; Amy Hutchinson; Chris Howey; Mike Jevons; Robert Famelton; Georgia Garrington; Linda Milburn; Brian Staff. Chorus: Ken Branson; Fran Elson; Kay Evans; Kirsty Famelton; Mark Famelton; Carol Hawkins; Heather Howey; Pat Lewis; John Lewis; Eileen Macey; Pauline Staff; Sue Wood.