Non-brits: I’m not going to try to describe our strange seasonal tradition of pantomime. Suffice it to say, it’s traditional fairy-tale stories staged in the theatre, primarily for (small) children, and carries a whole raft of strange conventions and set-piece jokes. They tend to work at multiple levels too, with double-entendres aimed firmly at the adults present (oo-er missus).
I tagged along to one today: the (reward|penalty) of having a girlfriend with young nephews/nieces. Lunchtime performance of Cinderella, at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth. It must be quite a few years since I’ve been to one, and I confess to being underwhelmed. It was more big glitzy westend/broadway style numbers than anything else, and a lot of it sounded pretty familiar: for example, greased lightning made a couple of appearances. Humour and audience participation were there, but secondary. The best bit was the ugly sisters’ costumes, which were not just amazing, but different in every scene!
But worse, they debased it. The all-important fairy godmother had become a ghastly old cynic. Now that’s great for adults and older kids: for example, Terry Pratchett does an infinitely better job of re-moulding the Cinderella story in Witches Abroad. But small kiddies seeing it for the first time surely deserve the enchantment of a much straighter rendition of such a central plank of the story!
Anyway, some of the kiddies seemed to like it: the 4 – 7 year-olds in our party were of course right in the middle of the age range, and I think two of the three of ‘em loved it. I guess that’s what counts.
On getting home, I was flat out for several hours. I guess that’s the remnants of my recent lurgy catching up with me. Bah, humbug :-(
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