the nativity pantomime

8 Dec

The Nativity Panto *****
Devised by John Savournin and David Eaton
At the Kings Head

Why do we find Mary and Joe up to their knees in snow. Surely Nazareth has a rather warmer temperatiure.
And yet, and yet… Think of Santa Claus and his reindeer, emblems of Christmas. Also remember ‘In the bleak midwinter… snow had fallen, snow on snow’ etc so it must be OK.
And so it is at the Kings Head with the lively companyof the Charles Court Opera performing a story written by John Savournin with music and lyrics by David Eaton
Why should it be surprising that Mary gets pregnant by a Holly Bush?. Rudolph in tears because he can’t, or has forgotten how, to fly.?
That Three Wise Men arrive on the scene because of a rather shaky star on a stick that is held up by somebody behind the set – who probably also operates the elves that occasionally appear peeping over the back wall
Yes, it must be said that this panto is totally daft and is all the better for it.
The concession to what is known nowadays as an Adult Pantomime is protrayed by one of the three Kings, name of Kingkey, who has the dirtiest mind in the world and turns every spoken phrase into something sexual. It is a billiant idea, so that the audience is allowed to appreciate these jokes and at the same time see how stupid they are. Also the dreadful puns are neatly arranged in such a way that it is acceptible to groan at them.
What I am endeavouring to say is that this panto is written by a great wit (and don’t say that too quickly or it might turn out to be an insult Oh dear, the panto season is surely upon all of us.)
John Savournin is a really clever chap. He can take all the professional pantomime bits and pieces on board and make it work as a great piece of comedy theatre, by doing a double take on the kind of pantos we see around.
The show is beautifully cast. Mary is played by Meriel Cunningham singing like an angel and looking looking adorably pretty in her peasant costume – a bit like a dutch doll with braids pinned above her head. Her Joe is played by Matthew Kellett and the two of them do nice duets. The evil villain is Jack Frost played by Jennie Jacobs with Catrine Kirkman as her sidekick Snowflake (see what they did there?) and Emily Cairns is the pathetic Rudolph.
However, in addition to these characters, the cast are expected to play the ‘We Three Kings of OrienTar’ King Size, King Pin and the aforementioned King Key. Jennie Jacobs also portrays Christmas Carol, the fortune teller.
It is astonishing when, at the curtain call, we are suddenly aware that there only five people on stage plus a drummer up on a plinth at the side.
This is the magic of panto and also a feat of mgic by Mia Wallden and Catrin Short Thyrsson who have designed the most wonderful costunes. Not only probably the most georgous cossies on any stage, but so adaptable that five people can manage to play ten without being irritatingly recognised.
The production values of this show are exceptional. Rachel Szmuckler’s set is atmospheric, Christmassy and there is a cunning door in the centre which creates suspense. Will it open? When will it open? I will say no nore. Damien Czarnecki’s choreography is well thought out, making the most of everybody’s best moves, especially Jack Frost in his/her skintight costume who wriggles about like a silver spider with long icicle fingernails
This is an antidote for intelligent people who are a little sick of panto. So Well Done!

Aline at AWtheatricals.

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