Numerous times in recent weeks have the shenanigans in the Houses of Parliament been likened to a pantomime.
If you’re a professional observer it’s an obvious joke to make. Lots of booing, bad guys, good guys and a story-line which is barely decipherable, unless you pay really close attention. Let’s be honest, it’s a bit unfair on pantomimes everywhere which generally have a start, a finish and a break middle when you can get a beer or an ice cream. Brexit just rumbles on like a hellish, never-ending children’s party in a soft play centre that never shuts and has run out of coffee and cake.
If I’m honest, and I do try to be, I spend my days paying close attention to things. I don’t want to do it on a night out too. If I wanted to have to strain to understand a plot I’d dust off the Twin Peaks box set after dusting off the video player. For younger readers, videos were like DVDs except much easier for your dad to record over all the episodes of The Word you had saved. The Word was like the worst Youtube podcast you’ve ever seen, only a bit worse than that. But it was essential viewing if you were 16 and lived in a Yorkshire Dales village.
Anyway, thankfully the people in charge of Sleeping Beauty at the Georgian Theatre Royal know that the audience doesn’t want the plot to get in the way of the fun. I don’t think I’m going to spoil anything for anyone when I say the panto is about a princess who pricks her finger and has to sleep for 120 years. Only when she has been kissed by her true love will she wake.
The Georgian’s version of this popular tale has a twist and is based upon the historic theatre’s own story which is cool. If ever you lose concentration, or the plot takes a unexpected twist, there are regular summaries given by the actors to ensure we are all on the same page. I appreciate that as I don’t mind admitting the internet has regrettably reduced my attention span to around ten minutes.
Even writing this review I’ve checked my social media feeds half a dozen times, made a cup of coffee, fed the cats and watched a video of a baby elephant being rescued by its mother from a river.
Like all recent pantomimes at the Georgian, everything revolves around the dame, in this case Queen Tryphosa, played by the Gary Bridgens, who also directs this season’s show.
I’m gong to be nice about him even though he selected me, apparently at random, hmm, to come on to stage and play Romeo in a skit which ended with me having to pretend to climb up to a window and kiss the big man/woman.
I was mortified almost as much as our 11-year-old who, even despite the stage lights, I could see was squirming in his seat down in the pit. And I’m still kicking myself for not shamelessly plugging Richmondshire Today while on stage.
So anyway, Gary is like the panto sun which all the other performers spin around. Without him it would just be a black hole, or at least a dull hole, but with him the show shines ever so brightly.
He has many of the best lines, although the fairy godmother type character Dolly Partridge (Freya Mawhinney) and the baddie Maleficent (Nick O’Connor) are also both very funny.
There’s jokes and fun for those of all ages, with a highlight for me being the fun had with one of the actors, Conor Hinds, who played two parts, meaning some very hurried costume changes when both characters were in the same scene.
The cast is quite small but so is the Georgian Theatre. You don’t need big chorus lines; the six young stars from the Georgian’s youth theatre do a cracking job.
At Georgian Theatre pantos you get the chance to catch a Tunnocks Tea Cake which are lobbed, with scant regard to health and safety, into the crowd. Our show even had one of the Tunnocks bosses come down from Scotland to see his cakes flying through the air.
In summary, I enjoyed Sleeping Beauty a lot. More importantly the kids loved it too, their dad kissing a man in front of an audience aside.
Sleeping Beauty is a gem of a panto and you can stick that on your publicity posters! God knows we all need distracting from the c**p our political leaders are inflicting on us at the moment and spending two or three hours with Gary and the gang is great way to do that.