REVIEW (From a distance): The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington (Sleeping Trees)

The latest lockdown may be over but for many people around the country, continued restrictions mean seeing a pantomime is impossible this year. Oh no it isn’t! While the curtain may have been brought down prematurely on many live pantomimes, Sleeping Trees are bringing the magic of panto into your living room with The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington.  We were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at this festive, family adventure which is available to stream into your homes throughout December.

John Woodburn, James Dunnell-Smith and Joshua George Smith. Photo credit: Shaun Reynolds

Like everyone else, the Sleeping Trees team are having a low-key festive celebration. With the Christmas tree up, James’ famous mince pies in the oven and the pyjama-clad trio’s tastebuds tingling after some overly hot hot chocolate, it’s time to settle down on the sofa for the Sleeping Trees annual Christmas living room adventure. But what story will they tell this year? James wants to do Dick Whittingon, Josh makes the case for Moby Dick and John picks Pinnocchio, so there’s nothing for it but to perform The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington. But not before we pause the recording to collect the various props we’ll need for the obligatory audience participation…..

Cushions, bedsheets, scrunched up paper, toilet role tubes and kitchen utensils at the ready, it’s time to hit play once more and watch as the not so traditional tale unfolds. Mayor of London, Dick Whittington, is turning on the Christmas lights of London for the very first time. But, an unfortunate accident sees him knock Santa Claus into the Thames, where he’s gobbled up whole by a giant white whale. So Dick finds himself on a quest to save Christmas, aided by trusty sidekick Cat, marine biologist Captain (Jessica) Ahab and veteran whale stomach escapologist Pinnocchio. With King Rat and his minions on their tail, can they rescue Santa and save Christmas forever? (And will James remember to turn off the oven in time to save his famous mince pies?)  

King Rat. Photo credit: Shaun Reynolds

It’s an entertaining mash-up of three unlikely bedfellows which, at around 50 minutes, is a good length for children of all ages and can easily be watched as an evening treat without encroaching on bedtime. It’s well written and uses the household setting to its advantage, making it feel like a real piece of theatre rather than something filmed and watched from home.

The Sleeping Trees team impressively switch characters so many times that it’s impossible to keep track of how many roles they play. And despite being recorded it’s as interactive as any live panto, with plenty of plenty of home role play (and even some toilet roll play). But unlike many pantos, it’s all good clean fun (if you ignore the mess left over once the kids have built and wrecked their homemade ships) which is, quite frankly, astounding for a show which brings together two stories with Dick in the title and one about a boy with an extending wooden appendage. But that doesn’t mean it’s just for the kids. There’s still plenty in the witty script for the grown-ups to giggle at too. Just be prepared for chaos in your living room as the adventure unfolds!

The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington is a fun, festive frolic for the whole family. So grab yourself a mince pie and kick off panto season in true 2020 style from the comfort of your sofa!

The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington is streaming from 1st December 2020 to 5th January 2021. We received a complimentary press ticket in return for a review.  

Running Time: circa 50 minutes (but build in time to pause and collect materials for shipbuilding and other such madcap capers).

Age guidance: Suitable for all ages

Tickets: Available from £5 at: