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Thursday, December 10, 2015


(Rory Booth & Bryan Hiles)

Everything you have come to expect from KickstArt in a pantomime full of fun and frolic. (Review by Caroline Smart)

In his welcome in the programme, director Steven Stead explains that the choice of pantomime was inspired by asking friends’ children what they would prefer and Puss in Boots topped the bill. The tale is usually set in Spain or France but the KickstArt production takes place on a mystical magical Caribbean island. It is indeed a “crazy cocktail”, as Stead describes it – full of fun and frolic, everything you have come to expect from a KickstArt pantomime.

The Caribbean location allows Greg King to let his imagination run wild with dramatic sets – and all their clever components - surrounded by luscious tropical plants and exotic flowers.

Puss in Boots follows their fail-safe pantomime formula, borne of Stead’s own beginnings in the theatre genre when he was a youngster. A tightknit and well-chosen cast with strong comedy skills ... and stamina, because there’s no let-up in the energy.

Belinda Henwood as the charming good fairy Calypso Honeybunch, beautifully costumed and complete with Caribbean accent, introduces us to the story where we find the charming Londiwe Dhlomo-Dlamini as Princess Miranda, singing We Need a Hero. A wicked goblin wizard is threatening her father, the king, and they need someone to come to the rescue.

Calypso Honeybunch comes to the rescue and transforms Tom’s cat into Puss in Boots. Splendidly costumed and made up, Rory Booth is the triumph of the show. He bursts onto the scene as the swashbuckling hero and does some splendid song and dance scenes.

Not far from Malfortuna castle is the bakery of the outrageously-dressed Mother Marzipan (Darren King) who lives with her younger son, Tom (Bryan Hiles). Across the road is The Old Mill owned by her posturing self-opinionated eldest son Tristram (Lyle Buxton). King, Hiles and Buxton make for a very strong trio and their cooking scene was utterly hilarious.

The King arrives – a strong performance by Nhlakanipho Manqele – attended by his sinister henchman, Grimsby Withergood, the wizard in disguise, played by the inimitable Peter Court in both guises. We see the wizard himself in a fantastic contraption creating an elevated throne on wheels with a “How’s My Driving” notice on the rear bumper.

In a delightfully laid-back performance, Caitlin Kilburn plays the cat Selina who Calypso Honeybunch releases from the wizard’s control so she can join the good guys. In sexy outfits she proves she’s a hotshot at high kicks!.

The two hardworking dancers, Evashnee Pillay and Simone Mann, complete the picture in a series of attractive costumes.

Puss in Boots is full of contemporary gags and offers loads of fun for young and old alike. It is a delicious experience to be surrounded by the infectious and spontaneous laughter of the youngsters in the audience who revel in all the pro-active sections with full energy and voice!

Congratulations once again to KickstArt and to the highly professional technical and back-up team. If you don’t have children of your own to take to the show, borrow some!

Puss in Boots runs in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until January 11. Booking is through Computicket: or by phoning 0861 915 8000. For block bookings and information on group discounts, contact Ailsa Windsor of Going Places on 083 250 2690 or email – Caroline Smart