Noda Review of - 'Raiders of the Lost Monarch'
Monday, Feb 19, 2018 2:34 pm
Noda Review of - 'Raiders of the Lost Monarch'

Raiders of the Lost Monarch Panto

Written & Directed by Beverley Beveridge
Benenden Village Hall
Saturday 3rd February Matinee
Musical Director: Graham Beveridge
Choreographer: Fiona Boorman
I really cannot believe this is the 9th Benenden Panto I’ve had the pleasure to attend - the first two by Victoria Campbell, missing Cinderella in 2012 and this now the 6th of Beverley’s masterpieces. Usually starting with a basic popular panto and giving it a twist,  this time a combination of ideas – forget Trumpo too, this tale takes a female Indiana Jones namely leather jacketed Lindy Anna, splendid man from the ministry Sir Barrington Darcyarcy and involving numerous South American dubious characters.  The task is to overcome arch baddie, dog fur crazy Nutella Brazil and her two supporting reluctant sidekicks,who have cunningly abducted our Monarch and her two beloved corgis to sell to the Dastardly German – sometimes French Blowsmelt! Assisted by a pair of bumbling guitar and Snap playing Secret Agents, aristocratic Parisian Pearly Puss and her three delightful purr..fect Kittens, a rather rusty Genie acquired from a Benenden Fete, a voluptuous Titty and of course the audience, come to the rescue.   By now you’ll be thinking I’m making all this up! It must be the chilli peppers and grasshoppers in El Pongo’s Cantina. Oh, and I haven’t mentioned the desert dwellers yet – of course it’s a talking miserable Cactus, and Anteater Ant and Geck – get it Ant and Deck!!  Of course, all’s well that ends well and the goodies are knighted.  A lot of laughs, boos, and hisses along the way. Rather a shy and reserved lot in this afternoon, but we did our best and hope the applause conveyed the enjoyment.
A colourful poster and a well-balanced A5 programme was devised with some fun colourful photos of rehearsals from Hayley Daley included.  
The proceedings commenced with the live music from the band led by Graham Beveridge on Keyboard, Simon Pain Drums, Robin Vesma Bass Guitar, and Electric Double Bass with the addition this year of versatile Lyn Grimsey playing Clarinet, Sax and Percussion. Great sound with an exciting repertoire ranging from Jazz to Pop, Latin, Ragtime and Old Time.
Splendid new red velvet curtains opened on a seductive opening entry of Nutella in a gold sparkling, slinky black frock, wonderful wig supplied by Derek Easton, long gloves, and great cigarette holder. A very strong baddie soubrette performance from Debbie Katis assisted by a well-rehearsed routine from a sextet of little red devils. This led to the BEV TV studio for the news bulletin - The Queen had been abducted! Shock horror. Outside broadcast from Buckingham Palace an excellent backdrop. Great props, included cameras and somewhat muddled news items nicely read by Newsreaders, Oliver Morris, Roseanne Nichol and Hector Powell with Reporter Beth Burnett and Royal representation from Coco Hamilton and Charlotte Bathew.  
Scenery construction and painting was taken on Peter Ellis and the team of both experienced and newcomers to backstage work and produced some stunning work.  I particularly admired
the British Rail train scene and the rolling countryside! Using cast for moving items around the stage not only saved time but gave the opportunity of extra responsibility.  We did spot a couple of the little black bulls.  Great attention to detail particularly in the Cantina – a real Mexican feel. Lighting, sound, and effects all efficiently  managed from the top shelf. The Act 2 surprise with the big screen and the film of Policewoman scouring the village was brilliant. 
Costumes from Dee Shelley, Ruth Clark, and Primrose Barron-Reid with the help of Mad Hatters were spot on for all. The construction of Cactus, Ant and Geck costumes commendable as were the performances from Cameron Rance, Archie Bunch and Seth Williams. First class footwear throughout – ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’ very good indeed. Make-up in keeping all round, cat face paint, a colourful Genie, pink hair, and striped frock of dear Titty. droopy moustaches etc.
Bev’s direction always interesting, good stage use, good clear numbers, slick movement, dances created by Fiona Boorman well performed - tango, mime, and conga. Strong leads and cameo characterisation. Bonnie Sullivan as Lindy with her lilting Welsh input, Ian Malaugh Northern Dame, French Puss most elegant cat suited Tilly Milnes, Mexican El Pongo Ian Aldridge. Special mention to the British Rail Announcer Felix Gautier for his excellent cameo. The Queen was regally performed by last year’s excellent Pinocchio Katelyn Malaugh. Benenden Players are a great community company and this production was no exception. Gentlemen audience participation went well with their four-step routine, sombreros, maracas and always nice to have little ones invited up on stage.  All the hard work of those performing and those behind the scenes certainly paid off and encouraging to see new members too.  
An enjoyable afternoon with you and thank you for your kind hospitality.
A shortened review will be posted on the NODA website shortly.
Anne Lawson
Regional Representative
District 3