Ed­i­tor’s com­ment

Lancashire Life - - FRONT PAGE -

Have you been to the panto yet? No, me nei­ther but I’m prob­a­bly going to give it a bash. Af­ter all, it has to be bet­ter than watch­ing a ‘celebrity’ I’ve never heard of hav­ing to endure a pit of lizards be­fore be­ing force-fed raw bat of­fal – al­though in my view that should be com­pul­sory for most ‘celebri­ties’. And a trip to the the­atre has to be more en­ter­tain­ing than watch­ing the in­ter­minable buf­foon­ery of Boris and Ja­cob dressed as the wrong end of a pan­tomime horse.

I know they are often dis­missed as the low­est form of art (that’s pan­tos not Boris…al­though, I don’t know) but I sus­pect they have come on by leaps and bounds since I last ven­tured into the grand cir­cle clutch­ing a rasp­berry Mivvi and a packet of Treets.

My first foray, armed with two small but po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive children, in­volved a much revered north­ern co­me­dian who was dressed in an army uni­form and chain-smoked Wood­bines while telling long ram­bling sto­ries about the war, Neville Cham­ber­lain and the chal­lenges of hav­ing to mend the string on his wife’s car­rier bag. And no, this was not in the 1950s!

As you can imag­ine, they found the whole thing hys­ter­i­cally funny. Ac­tu­ally, they en­dured it in a stony-faced sulk for less than an hour un­til one de­manded a ‘wee’ and we slunk out never to re­turn to our seats.

We gave it another go a cou­ple of years later and this wasn’t much bet­ter. The star of the show was do­ing what seemed like an end­less ‘Look Be­hind you’, ‘Oh yes, he is’, ‘Oh no he isn’t’ rou­tine when one large child near the front, red-faced

as he boiled with ex­as­per­a­tion, stood up and bel­lowed: ‘Oh yes he ******* well is!’ Sadly, this out­burst co­in­cided with a rare mo­ment of near si­lence in the au­di­to­rium and for the next few weeks I was reg­u­larly asked what that boy meant. ‘Just one of those silly panto words, dar­ling.’ ‘Yes, but what does it daddy?’ ‘Would you like a pony?’

The fi­nal straw came with Les Dawson play­ing the dame as imag­ined by Cissie Braith­waite. He was bril­liant, but there was a com­edy dou­ble act who only just es­caped with their lives. It had reached that lull in pro­ceed­ings when the cast get a breather while the duo in­vite kids onto the stage. One small girl ar­rived to the com­ment: ‘My, those are thick glasses.’ ‘Yes,’ replied the cherub. ‘My lit­tle girl used to have glasses like that but she doesn’t have to wear them any more.’ ‘Doesn’t she?’ replied the girl, hope­fully. ‘No,’ said the co­me­dian. ‘Now she’s got a nice white stick.’

If ever there was a tum­ble­weed mo­ment this was it and pretty soon the si­lence turned to hisses that be­came full-throated boos. The pair didn’t ap­pear in the sec­ond half and I sus­pect, for their own safety, were on the first train out of town.

So af­ter sev­eral decades I’ll be glad to see how pan­tomimes have moved with the times. I have no­ticed a grow­ing trend to­wards gen­der swaps, sort of trans pan­tos. I saw some pub­lic­ity material lo­cally that said in one Peter Pan pro­duc­tion Cap­tain Hook was be­ing played by a wo­man and a chap had been cast as Tin­ker Bell. What’s more, the story was to be told from Tin­ker Bell’s per­spec­tive.

And about time too, I say. For too long, Sis­ter Bell’s gen­uine con­cerns about the stereo­typ­ing of fairies in Never Never Land has gone un­chal­lenged.

I’m only sorry that they lacked the courage to find a rugby prop for­ward with heavy tat­toos and a ful­some mous­tache to play Wendy. Only then would we be able to say we had truly bro­ken free from the shack­les im­posed on us by the gen­der fas­cists.

Have a great month

(Oh, yes you ****** well will!)

What did he say, Daddy?

ROGER BOR­RELL, Ed­i­tor, Lan­cashire Life

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