Theatre

Theatre: Pan Ann at the Leicester Square Theatre review

Pam Ann: Touch Trolley Run to Galley, The Leicester Square Theatre,

until 27 May

*****

If a pop star wants to celebrate a big anniversary it’s fairly straight forward to do a greatest hits tour and reproduce the classic songs that everyone loves. If you’re a comedian, it’s a tad more tricky, especially if you are one that has been known to go ‘off script’ from time to time. That was the challenge facing Caroline Reid and her alter ego Pam Ann, the world’s most infamous air hostess. Touch Trolley Run to Galley, which is at the Leicester Square Theatre until the end of May, is the answer – a celebration of 20 years of the world’s most bitchy layover.

Pam has always been the master of improvisation; it’s that razor sharp wit and those faster-than-light snappy one-liners that have taken her from the back room at the Two Brewers to world tours and sell-out theatres, and it’s that quick wit that binds this anniversary show together.

Caroline uses Pam’s most popular devices to frame the show and within those familiar settings we get a treasure trove of laugh-out-loud comedy. The first half is dominated by audience participation when she pulls four volunteers from the crowd and her interaction with them is dynamite. There was visible joy on her face the night we went when she realised one of the guys was a gay prison officer from Queensland, and she didn’t miss a single chance for laughs. The interval is bookended by a new film – Pam’s take on a much loved TV baking show – and is really well done. The second half begins with her hilarious cocaine routine, set to Sia’s Chandelier, and is later dominated by the trolley, which remains a fantastic prop that is used to great effect. She mixes up the familiar – Lily and the air hostess dolls are back – with new elements; United Airlines is referenced throughout the show and she does a neat Hunger Games twist to boarding British Airways flights.

The show is most definitely a retrospective treat, but it’s so much more than that as well. Within that clever structure there’s hilarious new comedy and much joy to be found. Go on, treat yourself – fly Pam Ann, you know you want to! Dave Cross

Pam Ann: Touch Trolley Run to Galley runs until 27 May at the Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BX. Book tickets in advance via leicestersquaretheatre.com or 0207 734 2222.

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