OH NO IT ISN’T
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wednesday 10th December, 2014
In the Belgrade’s B2 Studio there’s an alternative to the traditional pantomime playing in the main house. This show is pitched at adult audiences and is a refreshing antidote to the season of good will that has been forced down our throats since October.
It begins backstage during a performance of Jack & The Beanstalk. Both halves of a pantomime cow are desperately looking for a gun needed for the next scene. What the front half doesn’t know is that the rear end is in league with the actress playing the giant; they are assassins hired to bump off the principal boy…
A farce unfolds with real and prop guns, poisoned and unpoisoned apples. When the scene changes to the actual performance the sense of desperation and tension escalates. With more twists than a corkscrew factory, Nick Walker’s plot moves along at breakneck speed – it has to, to fit into an hour’s running time. It’s also a very funny script with a rich vein of corny humour you expect from seasonal entertainment.
The cast of four work their tights off to keep it going. As an audience though, we need warming up a bit. It takes us a while to get with it. Emily May Smith is the diminutive, shock-haired giant and hired killer, wide-eyed and energetic. Robert Kidd is hilarious as the rear end of the pantomime cow and a comedy vicar in a performance that would not be amiss in Royston Vasey. Tom Shepherd’s front half of the cow is the more down-to-earth of the quartet but has a nice line in physical comedy. However it is Jack him-herself who takes the crown. The mighty Katy Stephens is superb as the overbearing actress that people want dead. Not above poking fun at herself and her RSC experiences, she commands the stage, desperate to keep the increasingly shambolic panto going and outwit her would-be killers at every turn. It’s a powerhouse performance of comedic skill and Stephens is more than ably supported by the other three.
The action becomes increasingly manic culminating in one final twist like a punchline to the hilarious hour.
Oh No It Isn’t – once you warm to it – has much to enjoy. It’s well worth dropping into the theatre for an hour to get yourself in a good mood before the rest of your night out.