Dick Whittington and His Cat at Hackney Empire – 80/100

Hackney Empire was full of festivity with Christmas songs, mulled wine and mince pies.

Dick Whittington and His Cat at the Hackney Empire was written and directed by Susie McKenna, taking inspiration from families who came to the UK during the Windrush late ’40s and early ’50s. Tarin Callender plays a slick, brave and daring young Dick ready to prove himself worthy as he arrives in post-war London in 1948 on the HMT Empire Windrush from Jamaica. Accompanied by his smooth-talking uncle, Vincent the Cat played purrrfectly by Kat B, Dick steps off the ship singing ‘dream the impossible dream’. Hoping to make his stamp on this new world, he’s met with ridicule and stares as he engages in a ‘friendship’ with Alice, Alderman Fitzwarren’s daughter.

The panto is a historical nod to the Windrush generation and takes pride in both the set which shows a variety of backdrops of the aftermath of the war mixed in with typical panto set and props. The music is also suited to the time period, along with the fashion. The ensemble made up of a local dance group of children and adults tap dance, shuck, and jive as Dick and his Cat step off the ship singing a duet ‘London is the Place For Me‘. Though Dick and The Cat steal the show, there is no panto without a Dame and Clive Rowe did not disappoint as Dick’s mum, Sarah the Cook. His witty jokes, innuendos, and chemistry with Alderman Fitzwarren were beyond hilarious.

One of the best pantos I’ve seen the performance was an enjoyable lesson on the Windrush while still keeping to its Chrismassy panto roots, there was the usual ‘behind you‘ moments as the villainous rat sneaks around the stage, plenty of custard pies, political satire and the marvelous sing-along moment at the end of the performance so don’t miss it!

Dick Whittington and His Cat runs at Hackney Empire until 5th January 2020. Book here


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