REVIEW: Red Riding Hood by the Leighton Buzzard Drama Group

Leighton Buzzard Drama Group's production of Red Riding Hood - pictured are Bonkers Bunny (Caroline Page) and Red Riding Hood (Trish Turner)
Leighton Buzzard Drama Group's production of Red Riding Hood - pictured are Bonkers Bunny (Caroline Page) and Red Riding Hood (Trish Turner)

Leighton Buzzard Drama Group’s version of Red Riding Hood is a modern-day twist on a classic fairytale.

This entertaining and eccentric version of the production features a 16 strong cast and runs at the Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre until January 25.

Red Riding Hood by the Leighton Buzzard Drama Group - pictured are Grandmother (John Stone) and Mr Wolf (Tony White)

Red Riding Hood by the Leighton Buzzard Drama Group - pictured are Grandmother (John Stone) and Mr Wolf (Tony White)

Taking the title role of Red Riding Hood on this occasion was Trish Turner.

Trish had the audience on her side throughout, and delivered an amusing and professional performance - holding things together with great composure despite being surrounded by mad and off-the-wall characters!

Mr Wolf (played by Tony White) had great make-up with some wonderful wolf-like features, and he played the wolf with the right attributes to make him a likeable character.

Every panto needs its villain and that came in the form of Lord Blackthorne (played by Carl Russell).

Red Riding Hood by the Leighton Buzzard Drama Group - pictured from left are Silly (Hannah Rourke), Billy (Lucy Dudley) and Willy (Sian Treacy).

Red Riding Hood by the Leighton Buzzard Drama Group - pictured from left are Silly (Hannah Rourke), Billy (Lucy Dudley) and Willy (Sian Treacy).

Carl executed this character brilliantly with a great evil laugh, excellent facial expressions and good comic timing for his jokes.

I would like to have seen a bit more of the narrator (Maggie Moulds) but she nevertheless helped knit the tale together.

Every panto also needs its dame or cross-dressing character and for me John Stone was the star of the show, playing Red Riding Hood’s wonderfully doolally mother Mandy Valentine.

John has been with the group for more than 40 years and was a laugh a minute with gags that felt like they had come from Christmas crackers, outlandish outfits, great improvisation and some local jokes.

Bonkers the bunny rabbit lived up to her name and she was played with great energy by Caroline Page.

Bonkers was a very likeable character as was Lennie the Leprechaun (played by Mark Croft) - and both had very convincing Irish accents!

Every panto needs a fool and in this case it was the character of Sebastian, which Russell Bennett played with great comic timing and the right amount of complete cluelessness.

The entertainingly daft trio of Silly, Billy and Willy (played by Hannah Rourke, Lucy Dudley and Sian Treacy respectively) had great chemistry, rapport with the audience and comic timing.

Sam Stephens had a great cameo as the magistrate but was not utilised as the prompt, as the cast got themselves out of any stumbles with a joke!

Finally the chorus team of Donna Jackson, Chloe King, Emma Brown and Heather Brodie all had wonderful singing voices and some great costumes, while Chloe’s cameo role as Karen in the courtroom scene was fabulously exaggerated!

Overall, this is an enjoyable and very funny tale but with some serious messages about protecting the environment.

The costumes and make-up were fabulous and the music was great.

Plenty of the jokes would have gone over young children’s heads, but there is lots to amuse them, and if they are sat in the right places they may even get a tasty treat in the second half!

Although this is an amateur production, it had an extremely professional feel about it.

This reviewer went on the second night when the audience included actress Kathryn Drysdale, who played the character of Louise Brooks in BBC TV comedy Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps for eight years and is currently starring as Meghan Markle in royal comedy The Windsors.

Despite the sound levels not being quite right at the start of the performance, with the music overpowering the singing, it is difficult to find any faults with the production, although the fact that words were spoken at the start of some scenes before the stage crew had finished what they were doing was a sour note for me, although it is not clear as an outsider whether this was deliberate.

For times of the performances and to book tickets visit www.lbdg.org.uk or call 0300 300 8125.