A friend of mine took her two young children to a pantomime this year. She remembered the shouting, songs and jokey atmosphere with great fondness and thought to pass on the joy to the next generation. From a plethora of prices and locations she chose ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’, a professional production in a local theatre. I think her first mistake was booking the day after Christmas. I don’t know about you, but my first instinct on Boxing Day is to stay firmly in bed, and that, it would appear, was what most of the cast would have preferred to do. She said, and I quote, ‘There was an all-pervading atmosphere of lethargy and the most definite whiff of booze coming from the stage’.
Luckily she was some distance away in the theatre’s balcony, (she was worried the dwarves may scare the children. Really). When it turned out the dwarves were being played by children it sent a warning tingle down her spine. When they started gesticulating to the piped-in voices of adults saying the lines, her heart froze. Children, it would appear though, accept all theatrical exposure to immediate suspension of disbelief. Her youngest daughter simply added, ‘The dwarves are all wearing Ugg boots, that’s cool’. It was then she knew she could just relax and let the nightmare wash over her soul.
The Dame, obviously hung over or still reeling with lunchtime drinking, mumbled and fell around the stage to the embarrassment of the other actors. He didn’t so much ‘phone the performance in’ as relate the lines as best he could under the circumstances. They ticked all the pantomime boxes. Singing, throwing sweets into the audience, dancing and slapsticking each other to the point of no return. When it came to the end of the 2 hours and 48 minute performance there was an audible sigh of relief from the few adults brave enough to stay awake. I will leave the final comment to the little girl, who, when I asked what it was like, replied, ‘The funniest bit was that Buttons kept telling the Dame, ‘Why don’t you just try doing it like we rehearsed?” Drink anyone ?