If the slipper fits, pantomime could become an annual tradition, I wrote last year in anticipation of the Copenhagen Theatre Circle’s production of Cinderella, and to be honest, I wasn’t anticipating much when I went to review it. The only other panto I’d ever seen was when I was eight in Bexhill-on-sea, a town on England’s southern coast where the businessman of the year is always an undertaker. It’s where old people − and as it turned out, pantos − come to die.
“He’s behind you, just like your career … and Jimmy Saville was last week,” we should have shouted, and even then I knew the genre was undeniably, and I reluctantly use this word, 'naff' – a word normally followed by ‘off’ and used as a swear-word substitute in British soap operas since the late 1980s. Given their forgettable contribution to panto, it kind of fits.
So I was pleasantly surprised when it kicked off and I realised I wasn’t going to have to lie in my review, or at least not mention all the bad bits. Sure, the singing wasn’t universally great, but the script and performances were, and the size of the venue (only 100 seats a night) made it such an intimate occasion.
Too often, media (and we’re as guilty as the next) condescendingly intimates that a show is good despite it being am-dram. But who would you honestly want to see: a talented amateur actor or a former football player and his glamour model wife? You can take your pick between Elke de Roos (a delightful young girl who brought the house down last year ) or Mark van Bommel. Actually, scrap that, he would make a great villain, and he always comes from behind.
And once again, for this year’s Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp, the director Barry McKenna has personally written the script. Just like a pub quiz or minced pies, you can’t beat doing it yourself. Topical, local, Anglo, you know it’s going to work on a multitude of levels.
It sounds win-win, but that’s a precarious assumption because there’s one vital ingredient still needed to ensure the CTC return next year, and further beyond: you! It won’t be a success unless you make an effort to see it – it’s a small amount to pay to prove yourself wrong: you do like pantos. All together now: “Oh yes you do!”