The festive entertainment season began in earnest this week with the larger than life Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fazakerley, from the usual Christmas crew at the Royal Court. Has it really been a year since the whole David Gest debacle? There’s no deviations from the norm this time, and the venue delivers its usual crowd-pleasing adult panto with gusto.
With a sci-fi theme dictated by its pun-tastic title, Fred Lawless’s daft and accessible script is sent into hyperdrive with impressive audio visuals (courtesy of Jamie Jenkins) and a huge, generally neon, cartoony set designed by Nigel Hook. What begins in a Fazakerley back yard as the Smith family gather to pay their last respects to their dear departed mad scientist-style grandad soon turns into a comical space race, as some of his old mates from Venus beam down to see how he’s getting on. He’s been up to a lot they had no idea about…
As patriarch Marty Smith, Michael Starke, as usual, manages to do a lot with an undemanding character, expertly wringing every last laugh out of the script. A natural born entertainer, it’s as if he personally takes the responsibility for the enjoyment of the audience in his hands. Good old Lindzi Germain is back in fine form as alien Amazon woman Thong, and LIPA graduate Jack Rigby is game for a laugh as nice guy Billy. Lynn Francis and Angela Simms (both last seen in the Royal Court’s Ladies Day in the summer) completed the cast.
Songs are shoehorned in, mostly Motown with a few rock anthems like Pinball Wizard, all helped along by backing singers and general cast support, The Spacegirls.
There’s a few nice surprises too – a familiar face not necessarily mentioned in the programme makes an appearance, and there’s even a cameo from Star Wars’ Yoda (like you’ve never seen him before, as they say). Alongside a plethora of amusingly crap jokes, there’s also enough are they-aren’t they silly blooper moments to provide the big laughs.
If it’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-style cerebral comedy you’re looking for, forget it. The Big Bang Theory, it is not. Colourful, bonkers and energetic, the show is bedding in to deliver exactly the kind of evening Royal Court Christmas audiences have come to expect.