LOST THEATRE, BATTERSEA.
Expect excess – and plenty of it – in this adults-only pantomime.
If it’s your first time at an Excess All Areas panto, you may be struck by the party atmosphere humming through the crowd before the show even begins. And it quickly becomes evident that the company has a loyal and very vocal audience, built up over 14 years of pantomimes including Alice in Poundland, and Pilates in the Caribbean. This is the first year they’ve had to perform away from the Battersea Barge, and while that’s a source of regret, the move to a bigger venue seems fitting for such a saucy, sleazy and outrageously entertaining performance.
Booty and the Biatch is written and produced by Paul L Martin, who also gets to wear the glossiest lipstick and best costume (designed and made by Miranda Evans) in the show as Mrs Potts, the teapot-cum-housekeeper.
Her beastly master is The Biatch, brought vividly to life by the gorgeous, glittering Jamie Anderson, whose excellent legs are given their due in a succession of stockings, gold lame leggings and sky-high heels.
He may not have much interest in marrying Booty (Holly Aisbitt), despite her impressively inflated backside, but he certainly knows how to carry the crowd, and his interpretation of Voulez Vous Couchez Avec Moi sees him stalking the aisles and sprawling over a succession of overwhelmed gentlemen in the audience – and shamelessly pinching their booze while he’s at it.
Musical Director Birgitta Kenyon has made the music a key strength of the show. Holly Aisbitt’s stunning Beautiful is a pastiche of X-Factor-style power ballads – but it takes an extremely accomplished performer to carry this off with such skill and good humour, and her classical training clearly stands her in good stead.
Matt Overfield takes on the role of pantomime villain Garage (to rhyme with ‘Farage’) with great gusto – and with UKIP branded across his leatherette lederhosen, it’s not hard for the crowd to boo and hiss at his every appearance. He’s also the show’s choreographer, and puts together some slick routines.
With Crazy Old Maurice taken to new heights of lunacy by Fancy Chance, and excellent support from Becky Finlay Hall and Ashton Charge, Booty and the Biatch surely deserves a longer run.
The cast may claim throughout to be under-rehearsed and slapdash about their lines but, to paraphrase Dolly Parton, it takes a lot of work to look this shambolic. A great show from a gifted company.
• Look out for Paul L Martin’s West End Wendies, an open mike night for singers. http://www.paullmartin.com