The Last Resort - Review

How refreshing it was to be sitting in the main theatre on the opening night of "The Last Resort" and to be surrounded by the sound of sustained laughter.

This home grown Pantomime provided an instant sunshine tonic that banished the post-Christmas Blues. There was not a Pop or Soap personality to be seen nor was the story a conventional one. Instead there was a talented cast 40 strong that had spent the last year devising a show set in Brighton with local characters, both present and historical. The company, under the guidance of Dermot Keaney together with writers, Eleanor Gamper and Nik Hedges, came up with a glorious and witty production that was original yet retained many of the elements of traditional Panto. It contained plenty of groan worthy puns, cross-dressing and audience participation with music and lyrics specially written by Eleanor.

In a story that wickedly lampooned such targets as reality television, makeover shows and celebrity chefs the audience witnessed a race against time to save Brighton from doom in a plot masterminded by the evil Baron Hooch Smuggle. The race is undertaken by Phoebe Fingerspoon, who finds herself in a world where time and space are confused, where the Prince Regent employs Llaurence Llewellyn Beau Legs to makeover the Royal Pavilion and Jammy Oliver to run the kitchens. A fairy godmother, Old Mother Brighton, and two trainee fairy godfathers aid her in her quest.

Her adventures lead her into some unusual locations, such as inside the Royal Pavilion, under the sea and even on a ghost train. The logistics of how all this was achieved in the small area backstage, together with the large cast and the frequent costume changes was mind boggling.

A pleasing aspect of the production was the involvement of the NVT Youth Theatre who, in particular, shone with their musical number involving rhythm produced from kitchen utensils. Likewise it was encouraging to see many new faces amongst the cast, several of whom were making their debut, I learnt later.

With such a large and hardworking cast, all of whom contributed to the show's success, it really is not possible to mention all the performances but I am going to mention a few that gave me particular pleasure anyway. The experience of seeing Carl Boardman in drag was one that will not be forgotten for a long time! He clearly relished the opportunity, as did the audience. Laura Bennett's Mrs Fitzherbert was an extremely comic creation as was that of Nik Hedges and Robert Maloney, the fairy godfathers. Congratulations to the rest of you.

The evening was sheer delight for the audience but must have been a nightmare marathon for Eleanor, Nik and their entire team.

Barrie Jerram