Ward of the Rings

“Who doesn’t love a bit of NHS bashing?” CHLOE COLEMAN and LEYLA HAMID recommend a panto like no other.

addenbrooks chloe coleman leyla hamid mumford theatre ward of the rings

Mumford Theatre, Tues 20th -Sat 24 November, 7.30pm, £6/10

The Addenbrooks pant isn’t your average fun-for-all-the-family ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’-type shenanigan. Oh no. This – as you can tell from the title – is a parody of the old favourite ‘Lord of the Rings’, in the unusual setting of Addenbrookes hospital. And it really works. The Addenbrooks panto is not to be missed.

A confession: we haven’t seen ‘Lord of the Rings’ (we know, cardinal sin). Oh, and we’re not medical students either (but you probably guessed that…). While we were, albeit momentarily, fretting about the crucial impediment these facts would prove to our evening, it turned out that very little went over our heads.

Sure, there were a fair few abbreviations and acronyms (which we assumed came out of Grey’s Anatomy), but there was also a handy glossary in the back of the programme, perfect for those deficient in knowledge of Mordor or medicine. Besides, who doesn’t love a bit of NHS bashing, complete with a heady cocktail of slapstick come innuendo come current affairs banter? It’s not all that often a performance makes you actually laugh out loud, but this was bloody hilarious.

One of the great things about the annual Addenbrookes panto is that the entire cast is made up of clinical students, consultants, supervisors or people involved in the world of medicine in some way. Not only is it impressive that they find time to put on such a professional performance, but the acting, singing and dancing are superb. And the energy was contagious: the audience was only too willing to play along, booing, hissing, ahh-ing and, in the case of one ‘lucky’ guy, learning to tango on stage.

Gandalf was transformed into the flamboyantly Hispanic drag queen ‘Juandalf the Gay’ (trust us, it works) – Jonny Tham’s comic timing and fabulously cheeky sexual innuendos were the soul of the performance, complimented by the comic brilliance of pretty much the whole cast. The orchestra live from the pit was also comprised of ‘tomorrow’s doctors’, and was equally impressive.

Despite the few line blunders and microphone malfunctions, ‘Ward of the Rings’ won us over with its warm and whole-hearted sense of fun. Plus, it’s for charity – supporting the Rosie Hospital Campaign, the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices and the Addenbrooke’s dementia and delirium service. There really is no excuse to miss it.