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Theatre Review King Rat foiled

SYLVIA HIKINS is swept along by a raucous and risque panto for adults that verges on political satire

The Scouse Dick Whittington
Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool


WHEN the curtains are raised, the image projected in big letters over the advent calendar reads, Scouse Dick, with Whittington added below in small letters — a hint of what’s to come. Then Dick comes on stage and shouts: “When I say I love you lot you all have to yell back, we love Dick,” which we all obligingly did!! 

No surprise then when we learn his surname isn’t Whittington but Head!

The show starts with the cast at the bus stop, having had a day out on Garston beach (a working-class suburb of Liverpool) waiting for the notorious number 86 bus, singing: “Let’s get ready to go.”

And go they did. Toe-tapping songs all through the show with memorable lines like: “She’s got her dinner from a garbage can” through to: “Don’t give up, it can still come true,” all accompanied by a terrific live four-piece band. 

Dick considers it’s not worth being Lord Mayor of London because the city is full of divvies. However, an opportunity has arisen in Liverpool, a desirable city where the streets are not paved with gold but chewing gum. Every cat in the city has been killed except Dick’s cat, and even she had to be rescued from a road accident by Fanny, the scary fairy who sports a magic wand together with a green wig. 

All of this mayhem has been caused by the evil King Rat whose intention is to become the Mayor of Liverpool, his sole purpose being to destroy the city. King Rat has used his influence to bring in a rule that insists before anyone can stand as a candidate for mayor, they must first raise £1 million. This suits wealthy King Rat but is designed to disenfranchise Dick. 

However, Dick has Fanny the Fairy on his side who helps him discover a treasure trail that could solve the problem. Off they all sail from Liverpool, arriving in unlikely places such as a Vienna complete with Mozart, mountains and lonely goatherds. King Rat’s spycam enables him to use a massive generator to create a huge storm. But Dick, now a Liverpool lad, is determined, stays at the wheel, believes he can succeed, singing: “We will make a difference.”

Of course he finds romance, the treasure, even ends up being washed up on the exotic island of Hilbre, which in real life is actually a large lump of rock off the Wirral coastline, home to colonies of birds and seals.

This is a true Liverpudlian pantomime full of raucous one-liners that at times almost develops into political satire. There was not one kid in the audience. With Santa winking at us from the back of the stage while one of his reindeers mounts another, it’s not surprising that the advisory age of the audience is 16+, and no-one under 12 is allowed to attend! 

Written by Kevin Fearon and directed by Mark Chatterton, the charismatic cast work in flawless harmony, delivering cheeky local jokes, quick fire wit that’s bold and risque, along with non-stop live music.  

It’s time for us adults to have fun this Christmas. The Scouse Dick Wittington is a great night out and it’s not surprising that due to popular demand, the run has been extended.

Runs until January 27 2024. Box office: 0151 709 4321;


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