Panto is a British institution. Judging by the crowds on the Thursday night I attended Pantsoc’s production of Robbin’ Hood, it is also in rude health among the notoriously fickle student demographic.
The show’s director Will Seaward and writers Benjamin Welby and Steve Henneberry have created a production full of in-jokes about top-up fees and conference guests, as well as finding space for the more traditional panto conventions, such as men in dresses and screams of “He’s behind you!”
Of course, there were generous helpings of what York does best: pure, unadulterated lunacy. Cut to the scene changes, where the director’s very own ‘Toilet Stories’, very loosely based on ‘War and Peace’, insofar as the characters in them were Russian, had the quality of inducing hysteria among the audience. Tasteless? Maybe, but all the more funny for doing the exact opposite of most pretentious student drama.
The two villains of the show, the bestiality fanatic Gisele, played by Marc Vestey, and the Sheriff of Heslingtonshire (Matthew Lacey) had an excellent rapport (in more than one sense) on stage, and their dance scene showcased some excellent choreography with th pair resplendent in gold lamé outfits and platforms.
The show’s supporting cast gambolled around, never missing a beat, and Robin himself, played by Rebecca Chalk, negotiated the fine balance between masculine and feminine with gusto. If this panto had one moral, it was simply this: cross-dressing is always the answer.