What fun it was! I have realised, now having been performer rather than punter, that whatever fun the audience may have, and listening to the peals of laughter from beyond the stage lights, you must have been having a good time, but whatever fun you may have had – we had more…..
Looking round the make up room in Easton Village Hall, surrounded by cricket bats and trophies, what is as striking as the fantastical creatures of the Deep that the talented make up and costume artists of the Production Team made us into, was the perpetual laughter and smiles – what a buzz! As Slimey Cowell, the impresario, with the four lines that I had in the fifth act, I have had time to look around and observe. The costumes themselves were worthy of a West End production, combined with the make up, they complemented the brilliantly designed set to produce the most fantastic visual feast – a Christmas chocolate box of colour. As we waited to go on stage, all the fishes and teenage stars were playing on their phones and I pads. But the atmosphere in the room was so full of excitement, that the children who were in the audience, all wanted to come in and be part of the action.
But in the men’s dressing room (more bras in there than in the women’s dressing room, I suspect) the conversation was about Brexit…….
Panto of course turns everything upside down – all the leading male parts played by women, all the leading female parts played by men. Terrible villains, fantastic heroes, a ridiculous plot in which much of the action takes place under the sea (with Sinbad and his merry men, taking a rest from swimming, on the back of a whale, conveniently provided by Neptune) a fight resolved by taking part in singing competition on the beach with the Demon and his Sirens (judged by Slimly Cowell, Tom John’s Locker and Kylie Minnow) and the heroes are then rescued by an enormous bird! All completely ridiculous! But gosh what fun and what a relief from the political news….
Actually, perhaps a singing competition might be the way to resolve our political impasse…
Even though Panto is crazy, there is a sense, in these difficult and crazy times, that at least it is predictable, following established norms, perhaps even reassuringly normal…..
The other thing which is clear to me is that Panto represents community at its best. Christopher Burness tells me that English villages were thought by Amos Oz, the Israeli philosopher to be the perfect communities…but I cannot find this quote on line.
However, it may be strange for those who live in cities to make such good friends with people of different ages, different backgrounds, and different political social and religious views (people who we might not meet in our usual social round of friends and family), but I believe this is what a panto can bring to village life.
Where else can you meet people from all parts of the community (from the youngest to the oldest) in action in this way….actually in church!
Thank you to the incredibly talented (and calm) Anna Mcgowan the Director and the really amazing cast and crew of Sinbad the Sailor, the Easton Panto 2018.