On my mind
AS the pantomime season draws near it is entirely appropriate that such a quintessential British tradition, which nobody understands in Europe, is being played out on the national stage.
Brexerella (subtitled “Jacob and the Hedgestalk”) provides a cathartic clearout at the end of the year for a political elite that has entertained us with comedy, dancing, slapstick, jokes, farce, fable, fast scenery changes, posturing, role-changing and back-stabbing, all essential ingredients of panto and now, it seems, of national politics.
Some people watching bemused from the stalls are feeling a little marginalised and fed up with the traditional role of hooting, booing and hissing from a distance. In the best tradition of pantomime, many want more audience participation.
However, they don’t want to shout, laugh, throw jibes and jump up and down like jack in the boxes in the Westminster production; they want a vote on what the principal character is offering, if anyone knows. Having visited both the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies I would love to escort a group of grunting and guffawing MPs to show them what respect, maturity and gravitas is.
Ironically, pantomime as we know it today seems to have come out of Europe, from the Italian street theatre of the Commedia dell’arte in the 16th century. Set in market places and fairgrounds, centre stage was comedy and physicality.
Others suggest that it has links to the Tudor court custom of appointing a Lord of Misrule who was responsible for arranging and directing all Christmas entertainment, including processions, plays, rowdiness and embarrassing behaviour and the “feast of fools”. I leave you to make any meaningful parallels but not meaningful votes.
It seems in Brexerella the pantomime shout of “it’s behind you” needs to be replaced by “it’s beneath you” for some dames and villains. Boo.