The Enfield Presents Team sent intrepid family explorers,The Mama Story, in to the heart of Hoxton at Christmas to review Red Riding Hood ahead of its run at the Dugdale this Easter.
Tempted to take the family this Easter holidays? Get the lowdown here!
Pantomimes are not just for Christmas - oh no they're not! A pantomime production of Red Riding Hood is coming to the Dugdale for Easter and we had a sneak preview of the show when it debuted at Hoxton Hall.
Based on the well-known fairytale, this version has been created by Marc Day, the man behind the Christmas and Easter pantomimes at the Millfield Theatre and the Dugdale Centre. The Dugdale’s Easter pantomimes have been running for the last few years and are typically on a smaller scale than Christmas productions.
Red Riding Hood has a running time of 100 minutes (including interval) and as such is a great opportunity to introduce small children, who might not sit through a longer production, to the pantomime tradition. I also thought that this version had less innuendo than other pantomimes, though still with plenty of groan-inducing jokes, songs and slapstick!
The plot sticks to the classic tale though with extra characters and scenes to round the story out with a modern twist. The Hood family - Red, Mother Hood (who doubles as a godmother-esque fairy) and Grannie (the pantomime dame) - run Hood’s Pie & Mash shop. Red’s best friend Tommy Tucker (the lovable pantomime fool) also works in the shop though he dreams of becoming a magician. He practises his magic tricks on the audience and, of course, they don’t always go to plan!
There’s also a love interest for Red but I won’t tell you who and - “HE’S BEHIND YOU!” - the baddie in the form of the Wolf.
The Wolf provokes the loudest cries of “BOO” from an excited audience and Seren also added “you are stinky Mr Wolf!” to the jeers!?The classic “he’s behind you!”, “oh no he isn’t!” and “oh yes he is” were also yelled more than once. Seren saw Aladdin at the Millfield Theatre at Christmas and Cinderella the previous year so she knew the drill and joined in with gusto. This was all a completely new experience for Imogen though she dived in too, often about half a minute after everyone else but I think that’s OK at panto!
There were other interactive parts too such as a dance at the end where the audience were encouraged to get up on their feet and follow the actions (grown-ups included).
We were sad when it finished though we did manage to sneak some photos with the cast afterwards. I was relieved that the kids were happy to stand next to the Wolf for a photo, showing that whilst being a great comedy baddie, he wasn’t going to give them nightmares!
The show is aimed at families with children 3+ though younger ones are welcome and Imogen (aged 2.5) very much enjoyed her first theatre experience. I had been wondering whether it would be a mistake to take her as she really struggles to sit still but when the lights went down and the curtains opened she was fascinated with the scenes unfolding before her. The frequent audience participation helped keep things interesting for her too.
The intimate, family-friendly setting of the Dugdale will make a great home for this energetic, interactive show and makes it a must-see for the Easter holidays!
Red Riding Hood runs at the Dugdale Centre from the 1st to the 17th April (with shows for schools on the 29th and 30th March). Book your tickets here.
Sian Carlisle blogs about family life and other adventures atThe Mama Story. She is married to Andy and they live in Enfield with their daughters Seren, aged 5, and Imogen, aged 2.