The Crawley panto is perfect for a comedian who loves slapstick

Richard Franks and Lauren Cocoracchio. Picture by Paul Clapp
Richard Franks and Lauren Cocoracchio. Picture by Paul Clapp

Richard Franks is pleased to say that he and pantomime are proving a very natural fit.

He’s delighted to be back for his second panto, this time at The Hawth in Crawley after making his pantomime debut at the Sheffield Lyceum last year.

“For the past few years I have been working with my own slapstick comedy trio. We were doing a show and we invited Paul Hendy from Evolution pantomimes to come along, and from seeing the show, he said ‘Let’s get you into pantomime.’”

Richard was pleased to discover that he fit in perfectly.

“I am a very physical comedian. My heroes are people like Norman Wisdom and Laurel & Hardy. Audiences come along and they love it. With physical theatre, we are talking about clowning around and slapstick, and the great thing is that people come and see the shows and at the end say they never realised that slapstick could be so funny. And I think it is good to remind them of that.

“Someone bangs their toe or bumps their head and it is funny. And actually, I think it is a very free comedy. But it is actually also very clever. Underneath someone falling over there is actually a lot of skill.”

And for all those reasons, Richard’s panto debut seemed very much a natural step to take: “Last year I couldn’t believe that this was the first time I had done it. This year I am even more excited having already got the foundations now.

“I had an idea what pantomime was going to be like, but I was really blown away by how friendly everybody was. You just come in and everybody gets along and has a fantastic time, and I love working as part of that big team. You meet these people a few weeks before and you are together all through Christmas, working hard, and it is all so friendly. We have kept in touch from last year.”

Inevitably, Richard learnt a lot from the experience: “I had done a lot of acting, but last year was my first pantomime, and I thought it was going to be similar, but there are a few bits and bobs you can pick up from the veterans, how to do this or that and how to drop in an ad lib.”

Last year, just as this year, Richard is Herman the Henchman in Snow White, which means he has got a very fast monologue in the middle of the show where he recaps the entire story.

“Every time I did it last year I was thinking how I could do it different, speeding up at certain points and so on, but this year I can do that. Last year I was very aware that I was the pantomime newbie. But now I think I can. It is definitely a question of confidence that comes from having done it.”

Richard is probably best known for making up one third of The Odd Bods, the comical alien trio in the popular CBeebies television show Spot Bots. Richard has also appeared in the TV shows Justin’s House on CBeebies and CBBC’s How To Be Epic @ Everything!

For the past few years Richard has toured nationally with the Three Half Pints, a slapstick comedy company of which he was a co-founder, writer and performer.

Snow White is at The Hawth until January 7. Tickets from 01293 553636.

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