Bristol Theatre Reviews

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Bristol Hippodrome Review

At last, Christmas theatre makes a comeback in Bristol, once again welcoming audiences for festive fun.

Being drawn into the picture perfect world of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the escape we need from 18 months of theatre-deprived pandemic misery – although nods to booster jabs are made with suitably comic effect.

The glittery over the top traditional costumes from Mike Coltman brings the sparkle and shine. Set designer Ian Westbrook’s diorama Christmas card vibes creates the perfect Insta backdrop for the action.

We have a high tec Magic Mirror which rises from the stage through swirling fog and a flying dragon to end Act One with a wow moment – Andy Ford is on the money with his dry observation noting it appearing for ‘no apparent reason’. It does feel like it’s trying to compete with Cinderella’s horses for the interval finish and there’s more than a hint of ‘caution, this dragon is reversing’ at times.

Occasionally it did feel like the show had been written by Panto Bots selecting from a tick box list of generic panto sketches. It gave the show a disconnected feel and made the story line feel secondary. You can tell which of the additional material has been written by Andy Ford as it tends to get the biggest laughs and connects the appreciative audience back to the show.

The scaled down ensemble and distance between performers on stage was a stark reminder that this is a production hoping to make it through the season without being struck by Covid. There’s no panto babes and scenes at times felt a bit desolate.

The five principal actors worked their socks off throughout. There are no celebrities being intermittently wheeled on and off. Lesley Joseph as Queen Dragonella spent most of the time on stage, with strong comic support from Rob Rinder as The Man in the Mirror. Whilst there’s also song and dance routines from a cheery ensemble, the overall feeling is that the show is being performed in bubbles.

Andy Ford makes a welcome return to the Bristol Hippodrome. He gets in and delivers what Bristolians want from the show with his unique blend of slapstick and local literal humour.

Charlotte Haines as Princess Snow White and Dale Mathurin as Prince Harry of Hengrove, managed to pull off genuinely likeable characters, a feat in panto where there is only around two hours to meet, fall in love and get married. A welcome twist in this show sees Snow White save the life of Prince Harry.

It is disappointing to see Crossroads Pantomimes cast average sized actors as dwarfs. The Restricted Growth Association (RGA) says there are over 400 medical conditions that cause dwarfism. Average size actors playing the role of dwarfs appropriates disability, it opens dwarfism open to mocking and takes acting roles away from short actors. This further marginalises disabled and short actors in a career already notoriously difficult to break into. Given Bristol’s reputation as a city of social justice, it’s a surprising and jarring casting decision to make.

Despite its flaws, it’s great to see panto back at the theatre again.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at The Bristol Hippodrome until Sunday 07 January 2022.

For more information or to book, visit:

Photos: Mark Dawson Photograph