Review: Dick Whittington and His Amazing Cat @ Contact, Manchester

Adam Lowe

Contact celebrates its reopening with the family-friendly panto Dick Whittington and His Amazing Cat, from theatre company eight-freestyle. Eight-freestyle are usually known for their colourful productions at The Dancehouse Theatre, but this time have pitched up at Contact to deliver what they call ‘Manchester’s Local Panto’. Vada was thrilled to be able to check out this zany family show.

The overall shape of the narrative is pretty familiar, but there are enough twists on the specifics to keep it fresh (Dick is framed; the titular cat is a breakdancing martial artist; there’s all manner of genre-bending silliness, including magic, ghosts, pirates, shipwrecks and sharks).

There’s a lot of energy in this production. A live band delivers unique twists of familiar pop songs. Four stylish dancers in showbiz heels and Vegas headdresses lead a troupe of young movers from a local dance school in death-defying choreography. What’s more, there’s ample opportunity for audience participation (though you may miss the staples of “He’s behind you!” and “Oh no he isn’t!”, etc).

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And though much of that participation is aimed at the kids in the audience, the Dreamworks rule applies, in that the jokes are often aimed at the adults instead (while remaining firmly on the savoury side). In this way, the show appeals to all ages in the way the very best animated blockbusters do.

Though there are problems with the pacing early on, the show quickly finds its feet and leans into the silliness. There’s just enough class (and high quality production values) to keep it from turning into your usual cheesy panto affair.

More information

Price: £22 full price/£18 under 35s/£12 concessions.
Venue: Contact
Ages: Recommended for ages 2 -102!
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, including a 20 minute interval.

Dick Wittington and His Amazing Cat runs from 11 December 2021 until 3 January 2022. Book more than 1 month in advance and you will receive 10% off your ticket price (so get booking!). The discount is applied automatically at the check out. Early Bird Deal is not valid for premium show dates Dec 24, 27 and 28.

Access & Social Distancing

There will be a BSL performance of this show on Wed 29 Dec at 12pm, by interpreter Kate Labno.

The theatre will have a socially distanced performance on Wed 22 Dec at 7pm.

There will be a designated school performances running from 13-16 December 2021.

You can book online or call the box office Monday to Friday between 10-6pm on 0161 274 0600. Alternatively, you can email the box office on boxoffice@contactmcr.com.

Credits

Director & Script: Sean Canning
Assistant Director: Kate Mitchell
Designed & Produced by eight-freestyle in association with Contact
Musical Director: Mark Griffiths

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About Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people. He sometimes performs as Beyonce Holes.