This year, the Cambridge Footlights and CUADC tackle the story of Red Riding Hood as their Christmas panto, and it succeeds resoundingly. In this iteration of the traditional tale, Red, (daughter of Ruby Riding, and Robin Hood), has been hit by puberty and decided she wants to become a rebel, escape from Backwater (the town she and her friends live in), and find her father. Cue the dame, the fairy godmother of puberty.

Red (Anna Wright) is accompanied by her group of school friends (Sara Hazemi, James Rodgers, Fintan Quinn and Jamie Williams), whose characterisation makes them immediately recognisable as people you probably went to school with. The costuming, by Martha Cook, really stood out and enhanced the characters, especially for this group of teenagers who take on the task of finding Red and rescuing her from the Big Bad Wolf. Red’s fantastic trousers were also a highlight.

There were no weak links in this cast: every single performer shone in their own right. A particular stand-out in terms of giggles was Tom Nunan’s Grandma, who has gone, or always been, a little off the rails, but it really is difficult to pull anyone out of such a stellar cast.

The jokes had me repeatedly in stitches, and were brilliantly written (by Adrianna Hunt and Seth Jordan) and timed. The references were to a range of pop culture, enabling you to identify any Harry Potter fans in the room, and sort the young from the old, by who laughed at what, along with nods to memes, the current political situation, and good old innuendo.

The set (designed by Maddie Paige and Emily Senior) was a sort of jungle gym climbing frame mash up, featuring a slide, swings, and a climbing net. Although this provided plenty of ways for the characters to interact with it and did work quite well, I think the concept of this being the main set throughout the show was maybe lost on me a little bit. However, the whole thing was worth it for the exceptional entrances made possible by having a slide. Can all shows incorporate this from now on?

"There were no weak links in this cast: every single performer shone in their own right"

The music, composed by Laurence T-Stannard and Samuel Macdonald, was brilliantly catchy, and I must confess I’m humming along to the opening number as I type out this review. The musical numbers featuring the Big Bad Wolf and the big group numbers are the ones that stayed with me most, although the duet between Red and her mother, Ruby, added an emotional dimension to the show and plot which should not be discounted. Red’s solo number, with the refrain of “Well-behaved women rarely make history” was always welcome when it returned but didn’t quite have the same sticking power as some of the other, more up-beat, songs. The dances (choreographed by Orli Vogt-Vincent) was entertaining and well-executed, with the final showdown having all the dramatics it deserved.


Mountain View

A guide to the pantomime

Audience interaction featured occasionally, as is necessary for a classic panto, but was never overused. Often, the lights up on the audience was enough to remind us of one of the key features of panto and squirm a little in our seats without overdoing it.

Fairy tale favourites from other stories were interspersed into the plot, such as the Three Little Pigs, and Robin Hood and his merry men, and the writers made these add to rather than detract from the main story. But the real question I’m left with, is what on earth happened to Goldilocks?

Red Riding Hood is the perfect antidote to end of term exhaustion. This show cannot fail to cheer up even the most Cambridge-weary student, and we left the theatre feeling buoyed up with good humour and festive cheer, and ready to take on week 8.

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