Northern Stage 12/12/13
A panto, with a charming prince, a king, a helpful character that narrates the story, woodland animals, ugly sisters and an oppressed beautiful girl looking for love. Add to this a troupe of improvisational comics and an audience all too willing to provide material to make the story much less traditional, and you’re in for a good night out. The prince and the lonely girl had hands for feet, for example, the woodland creatures had varying levels of Tourette’s and the story took place in the magical land of Gonnoria .
The thing about these productions is that the story, whilst having the familiar framework, is never going to be the same twice. The songs are made up on the spot, and range from the daft to the ridiculous. The sudden pressure to create a song from a silly situation caused many a funny moment. The ability of these actors to think on their feet (or imaginary second set of hands) is remarkable, as is the magic that comes from an audience with a little alcohol inside them, a twisted imagination, and a lot of Christmas cheer.
The actors, Steve Steen, Andy Smart, Bev Fox, Ian McLoughlin, Karl Kennedy, Alex Ross, Jayne Humphries and Micky Cochrane made full use of the magnificent set built for Dark Woods Deep Snow. The ramp previously trampled by a witch and a comical piggy is now stomped upon by an evil sidekick who was damaged in childhood because he never got a go on the swings, and so turned to the dark side.
The actors received rapturous applause and a curtain call even though the house lights were up, and left us wanting more..poor souls must have been shattered!
I recommend this as a Christmas night out as the unpredictability and sheer silliness, as well as the regular audience participation, is exactly how panto should be. For adults as well as children…but don’t bring the kids to this one!