Pantomime review with Julia Pattison: Dick Turpin Rides Again! at the Grand Opera House in York

Suzy Cooper had the audience howling with laughter. Photo submittedSuzy Cooper had the audience howling with laughter. Photo submitted
Suzy Cooper had the audience howling with laughter. Photo submitted
Pantomime: Dick Turpin Rides Again!

Venue: Grand Opera House, York

Dates: Until Sunday, January 9

Review by: Julia Pattison

Berwick Kaler has woven himself into the fabric of the life of the city of York and gained a very special place in the affection of its people”, said Professor Michael Cordner, Department of Theatre, Film and Television, University of York on presenting Berwick with an honorary doctorate back in 2002.

A well-loved, larger than life Dame, that warmth and affection showed in the enthusiastic applause as the delightful Martin Barrass and ditzy Suzy Cooper, beloved members of Berwick’s Gang, bounded onto the stage; a new theatre to Stand and Deliver the old “rubbish“ we’ve loved over the years, particularly poignant after a panto-free Christmas last year due to Covid.

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It was lovely to hear those famous words uttered by their stage Mam, “Me Babbies, Me Bairns” as Berwick made his first appearance on stage and we looked forward to settling down to enjoy a zany couple of hours of pure escapism.

Daniel Conway got a warm response from the audience as dashing Dick Turpin. His sensational solo as he soared into the starry skies on faithful horse Peggy sent shivers down the spine, and together with the visual special effects created by The Twins FX, was the highlight of the show – awesome!

David Leonard returned to play Dick’s enemy Vermin The Destroyer with his usual aplomb and the camaraderie of the gang showed as they all turned a technical fault into a triumph, great fun.

Loveable Brummie AJ Powell shone as Luvilie Limpit, especially in the dance numbers choreographed by Grace Harrington.

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It was good to hear Berwick referring to “The Boy Rob” again, and musical director and keyboard player Rob Thorne did a great job along with band members John Marley, Nigel Harvey and Jonathan Thomson.

However, I have to say that apart from the flying sequence and the fabulous finale with all the glitz and glamour, the humour all seemed a little laboured with some very old jokes that just didn’t seem to hit the mark.

Berwick’s costumes didn’t have the wow factor they’ve had over the years and it was only in the finale did we get to see the Dame in all her glory.

That said, a lot of people had travelled far to see their beloved Berwick and his gang, and the Wagon Wheel section went down a storm with the veteran Dame in her element.

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Suzy Cooper must have a mirror up in her attic – she just doesn’t age, and is super fit; the surprise yoga demonstration clearly showed that.

Her “Batty“ performance had us all howling with laughter, with the camaraderie of the gang shining through brightly again.

Berwick fans must be delighted to see him getting back in the saddle again.

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