Se7en Dwarfs opened at The Wardrobe Theatre, St Michael’s Hill on Wednesday evening last week.
A cross between nineties Hollywood thriller Se7en and Disney’s version of the fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the show offers an original and darkly funny adult alternative to the standard seasonal pantomime.
Detective Sner White (Emma Keaveney-Roys), forced into early retirement three years ago, is called back into the police force for her insight into a gruesome new serial killer.
Like all the best cops, Sner White has a flawed personality. Plagued by comparisons with Disney’s Snow White since childhood and thrown out by her mother when she was just 16 years old, Sner learned at a young age that she ‘had to grow a pair’.
White is a great character, a superbly performed horrible experience. She is loud, obnoxious and sleep-deprived to the point that she is only just teetering on the right side of sanity (most of the time).
Visually stunning, her bright yellow flares, blue jumper, red bum bag, ebony hair, pale skin and deep red lipstick mirror the colours of her Disney counterpart as precisely as her personality opposes it.
Side-kick Bramley (Adam Blake) by contrast is the familiar, affable dull-witted foil to White, lacking her vision, and the ability to see the obvious. Dressed in the standard trench coat and hat of a 1940s film noir detective Bramley’s performance is anything but beige, as he sets up and carries off some laugh out loud pieces with aplomb.
The plot is pacey, carried along by a good balance of dry humour and slapstick, and manages to twist neatly at the end. The limitations of the performance space in terms of set, scene changes and size of cast is incorporated into the humour of the piece with dead guys moving themselves off stage and office chairs becoming convincing (enough) cars.
White’s struggle to repress her cartoon original’s desire to burst spontaneously into song is used to good effect throughout, however the ‘big singing number’ towards the end feels a little unnecessary and out of place.
Equally White is at times a bit too shouty and uses swear words so frequently their effect can be wearing.
That said, director Anna Girvan has created an exceptionally funny show that generates all the informality and chaos expected of a panto-esque production whilst also refreshing it. The use of popular culture references from the film Se7en, the fairy story of Snow White and the Disney cartoon is in keeping with the tradition as is the well-executed ability to take the irreverence of the genre to a more adult level.
The Wardrobe Theatre is a great alternative venue, situated above the White Bear pub. The show runs for 1 hour 15 minutes and costs a mere £5 so is just the right side of affordable. Performances are nightly until 22nd December.
The Wardrobe Theatre: Se7en Dwarves