The Grand Old Dame Of York Review

York Theatre Royal – until 2 February 2019

Reviewed by Marcus Richardson


The Grand Old Dame Of York, my my my, what a show. It has been 40 years of the same old self proclaimed rubbish and I would have to say the best 40 years a Dame can have. York Theatre Royal like pretty much all theatres have a pantomime over the Christmas period, however year in year out their panto stands out from the masses, being both chaotic and incredibly hilarious. Berwick Kaler has held the mantle of the Dame for 40 years, with this run being his last as Dame. A legendary performer backed by an equally talented cast. I am so glad that I have had the privilege to review the YTR panto for the past 3 years and got to experience a huge part of York’s Christmas tradition.

With Kaler playing the Dame, we already know the show is going to have constant laughs from start to finish. But this isn’t a one man show, nor is it a one man carrying the show, this is a cast that creates an amazing show with the stage being shared and given life from all members. One thing I love about watching the YTR panto is the returning faces, we get to see David Leonard play the villain one again, Suzi Cooper playing the lead female and Martin Barrass taking on the role of the son.  Every year I get just as confused and just as entertained, I’m amazed at how a show so crazy and so unpredictable can flow and work, I don’t think I’ll ever know but it’s something that YTR does.

This year we aren’t given a normal panto plot instead we have a very special sending off to Berwick as we watch as the villain tries to stop happiness from existing in Yorkshire, all the while Kaler is trying to write the play for this years pantomime. Don’t ask me to try and explain I don’t think anyone is capable of such a task. From the water chucking to A.J. Powell  dressing up in a female nurse outfit, there is never a dull moment in the play. The costumes as grand as ever and the stage sparkly and fun it’s spectacle for the eyes. That’s not to say the music was bad, we are given twist on songs such as baby shark, and a nod to the Little Shop of Horrors with the dentist song, yes the villain is also a dentist.

I don’t know how to end this review, as you should already be at the theatre watching this show, it’s a great send of to Berwick, and a part of York that the world enjoys to watch. I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the show and I’m sure you’ll be the same, I’m glad there isn’t another show like this because I doubt they could ever to it properly.