How did it ever come about? Who sat there and thought ‘I know what we need to brighten up this festive season, let’s re tell a children’s story, stick in a fat man in a dress, add some none to clever innuendo, have the lead man played by a girl and call it all PANTOMIME.’
Oh no we shouldn’t, oh yes we should!
The panto. That time honoured yearly trip to the theatre. Love it or hate it, if you live on these shores you will have been to one at some point.
Here are my top 3 reasons to love/hate the panto.
1. It gives a creative outlet to those whose careers have dwindled. Where would ex heavyweight box Frank Bruno be? What would happen to all the old soap and kids TV presenters? The panto saves us, the taxpayer, a fortune in benefits to these struggling ex stars.
2. Audience participation. Up until the age of 14 I went to two pantos a year. Both sets of grandparents felt the one panto was not enough. It’s not that they didn’t speak to each other, it was more like a ‘ah your panto only has Rod Hull and Emu, Ours has Keith Harris, Orville AND cuddles (the same still happens now, they had a conversation a while back about who gets the worst wind after eating bananas). Any way, this indoctrination led me to shouting out in a Shakespeare play. ‘Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo’ ‘ He’s behind you!’
3. 1,000 screaming children. The kids love em. Even the coolest kid in class can’t help but get swept up in the screaming, shouting and call and response fun. It may also be, as was the case with me, the only chance they get to visit theatre. So for that I applaud the panto.
Today is panto day at school by the way. Will let you know how it went tomorrow.