The Scouse Dick Whittington

"Another smash for the Royal Court.....oh yes it is!"

Flying pigs, camel rides and an introduction from ‘Cilla Black’, the annual Scouse Christmas show has arrived at Liverpool’s Royal Court.

Now in its fifteenth year, the annual production, not too dissimilar from a panto, continues to sell out year after year. The Royal Court has garnered a reputation for Scouserfying (yes, I made up a word) well-known stories but with a Liverpool setting and this year is no different.

Written by Kevin Fearon and with Musical Direction from Howard Gray, ‘Scouse Dick Whittington’ takes us on a journey with Dick and his friends in search of the hidden treasure to become Mayor of Liverpool. (Well, London is a bit far!)

This year’s outing is what we’ve come to expect as an audience from the Royal Court:  puns aplenty, double entendres, and a larger-than-life cast. 

Leading the company as Dick Head (yes, really) is Adam McCoy. With powerhouse vocals and cheeky naivety, McCoy sets the tone for what’s to come for the rest of the evening, I’ll give you a clue- lots of phallic references. Playing his love interest, Alice, is local talent, Hayley Sheen. It’s been a while since I had the pleasure of seeing Sheen in a production and I was so glad she had the opportunity to not only show her acting talents but belt to her hearts content so effortlessly throughout. 

A match made in heaven was the pairing of Lindzi Germain as Holly Head, and Liam Tobin as Bradley Fitzwarren, respectively. Both actors commanded the stage and together were a force to be reckoned with. Germain is well known for her comic timing and is always a welcome asset to any production! 

The cast deserve the utmost respect for maintaining their mass of enthusiasm throughout which must have been so difficult with an audience not giving much back until the end of act 2.

Lighting design by Ian Scott was well done throughout, though I could have taken more of a contrast between the scenes of the heroes versus the villains. It also would have helped if Liverpool acting legend, Andrew Schofield, hammed up his King Rat more towards the audience. 

This was a recurring theme throughout the show. The Royal Court is well known for its cut-throat humour – usually toward the Tory party – but tonight seemed a lot more intent on shoehorning every song that was suggested at the idea table into the mix, detracting from the already manic plot.

Some standout moments (without giving too much away) involved songs by Celine Dion and a well-known show tune by Frank Loesser which was paired excellently with choreography by Movement Director, Lucy Thatcher. Overall, the musical numbers could have been reduced to give more time to what these productions are known for- their famous Scouse humour. 

Set design by Olivia Du Monceau was on brand for the theme of the play, festive with the right amount of kitsch. The use of a revolve was a nice idea but when paired with the band being on both sides of the stage and the use of a comedy wall-esque advent calendar, it overpowered the stage and hindered further set pieces. 

Overall, this show is sure to be another smash for the Royal Court…oh yes, it is! Irrespective of reviews, I have never seen a bad show at this venue and as writer Kevin Fearon excellently writes in the programme, “the difficulty we, and others around the world, have are locked outside. For the next couple of hours our world is just about the singing and dancing and laughter. It’s the Royal Court way to celebrate Christmas” – and that it was.

This show was reviewed on the 15th November 2023.  The Scouse Dick Whittington runs at Liverpool's Royal Court until the 20th January 2024.  Tickets available here: The Scouse Dick Whittington | Royal Court Theatre (liverpoolsroyalcourt.com)

Review written by Lee Gregory

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Photo credit: Jason Roberts Photography

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