Everyone loves a good panto! (Oh no we don’t!)

Having managed to progress 38 and three quarter years without ever seeing a panto, with the exception of the Cbeebies Panto on the telly, I’ve now seen two in a week and am pretty confused. The first we saw was Aladdin and didn’t contain a single celeb. It was all the better for this but I had trouble understanding the story- why on earth was it set in “Old Peking” and not Arabia like all the other Arabian Nights stories? A little bit of digging later on told me it was added to The Book of One Thousand and One Nights by it’s original French translator and has no traceable origin to Arabia but even so, some whacking great panto dame at a Chinese laundry confused the heck out of me, even if the kids loved it. The songs were vibrant, the costumes excellent and if Princess Jasmine had a lisp, it wasn’t the end of the world. The kids came out enthused and I came out laughing quietly at Man Utd losing at home. All was well in the world.

Last Friday we did our second panto (how many more for a Pantothon?) and it was a slightly different experience. We had a 70’s TV star and a childrens television newsreader, so there were jokes about both their day jobs slotted in. I thought that given the age of the audience, the 70’s TV presenter would have been unknown to a lot of the parents but even so, that ticked another box for the panto checklist, talking of which I’ve drawn one up for you to use if you’re going. There’s a point for each:

  • slightly overdrawn “He’s behind you” sequence. It’ll go on about two “he’s behind you”‘s longer that feels right
  • a dame who is well over 6 ft tall and has costumes that Dame Edna would think twice about
  • puns. Lots and lots of puns, some terrible, some okay and one or two brilliant
  • a character who tells the boys and girls to say hello to him whenever he comes on stage
  • a baddy who repents of his ways and becomes nice right at the end
  • a dancer who has thighs a member of the England rugby team would be proud of. 
I have to say the second panto wasn’t a patch on the first. It had little or no flow to it, there were periods of bizarre stand up between two of the cast members whilst costumes or sets were changed and, some special effects aside, it wasn’t visually very impressive. If that had been the first and only panto I’d seen, I’d be well and truly put off them.
So have you got your panto booked and do you like them or is it just for the kids? Answers on a postcard!