|Me in pantomime, looking fabulous.|
As a member of an amateur dramatics group, I am currently in rehearsal for a pantomime, and it occurred to me that there are a lot of people who don't even know what a panto is (I'm thinking of you in particular, my American friends), so I shall try to explain exactly what I and many of my friends subject ourselves to every winter.
A pantomime is a play-slash-musical-slash-comedy, with a little bit of a love story and a dash of slapstick thrown it, and they're performed throughout the Christmas season. They're usually based on children's stories (think "Cinderella", "Snow White", "Aladdin", but before they were given the Disney treatment), and they're incredibly cheesy and a hell of a lot of fun. Girls dress up as boys, men dress up as women, one person usually gets chronic backache from being the back end of some kind of beast... but I'm getting ahead of myself. Whatever the story, wherever the production, a pantomime will (almost) always have these characters in them:
|"Now, where did I put my trousers...?"|
She is basically the fairy tale version of Doctor Who's assistant. Her job is to go out and get captured, or at least get herself in a situation where she has to be rescued by the man she's in love with and has known for little more than five minutes. She's as wet as water, and incredibly stupid. You can guarantee if there's a mysterious noise, she will run towards it.
|"Boo! Hiss! Etc!"|
|"Don'tcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me..."|
"The Comedy Double Act"
A duo of idiots who tell jokes so bad that if you were to tell them outside of a pantomime, you'd probably be ostracised.
"The Pantomime Cow/Horse/Four Legged Animal"
Comprising of two people. One person is the front end, the other bends over and holds on to the waist of the person in front and makes up the back end. The up side is that you get a nice, warm costume. The down side is the pain.
The guardian angel of any production. They sit in the wings with a copy of the script and feed lines to anyone who has forgotten them. On a good day, they have nothing to do. On a bad day, they're frantically flipping through to pages of the script, trying to work out what the hell is going on.
Although people of all ages go to watch pantomimes, they are predominantly aimed at children, and when you have a large group of under tens watching a production, anything can happen and usually does. For many of these kids, this is their first experience of seeing a performance that isn't on a screen, and keeping the attention of these little
If the front of the stage is chaotic, backstage is pandemonium. People are complaining that they're cold or tired or that their throat hurts. Props get lost, cues get missed, someone will start to cry, someone else will be ill, and you can pretty much guarantee that someone will proclaim to everyone that can hear them that "That's it! No more! I'm never doing this again!" And everyone nods sympathetically and gives them the attention they need, knowing full well that they'll be back the following year. And why? Because we love it! We love the unpredictability and the adrenaline rush that goes with it. We love watching the kids go crazy as they boo the bad guy and cheer the hero. We love dressing up in weird and wonderful costumes that would probably get you arrested if you were to wear them in the streets. But most of all we love performing. The songs might be cheesy, the dances exhausting and some of the lines dubious to say the least, but nothing can compare to the feeling you get when you realize you have an entire audience eating out of the palm of your hand. Yes, we hate the cold dressing rooms, the coughs and splutters that are always spread amongst ourselves, and the tears and tantrums that are bound to occur when you have so many
|Spot the difference.|