Venue: Vanbrugh Bowl
Run: 17 – 19 June 2011
Production Team: Justin Stathers, Tom Crowley, Katie Lambert, Mickey Hollman, Shona Jemphrey, Tanwen Morgan, Emma Gallacher, Rosie Peters, Matthew Lecznar, Stephanie Bartlett, Beth Eustace.
PantSoc’s 2011 summer pantomime has a big, energetic cast and genuinely entertaining moments, which make you really want to discount the rather freewheeling storyline and the one-too-many deliberately groan inducing puns. Unfortunately, they begin to weigh on the performance by the second half; try as you might, there’s a considerable chance you’ll leave with just a few chuckles and a pleasant but somewhat forgettable experience.
Although the humor relied heavily on campus in-jokes related to YUSU, societies and campus media, these were often genuinely among the funnier moments (I appreciated the shout-out, Justin Stathers, however generalising it was), but their effect would have been lost on the non-students in the audience. The musical numbers could have benefited from a little more practice in terms of timing, yet at the end of the day it isn’t a musical, and bearing that in mind the songs did add a well-placed mockery of certain Hollywood blockbusters to the mix.
Standout performances included Odin Hilmarsson’s somewhat disconcertingly realistic middle-aged, sex-crazed and deafeningly shrill character; Lewis Chandler’s morally torn pirate; and Joe Popplewell’s villainous parrot. Everyone had a quirky moment or two in the limelight as well, although they never let their energy wane when they had longs periods of walking on and standing around within a large ensemble. Again, going through the pacing and editing the story down a little more objectively could have prevented these aspects from becoming repetitive and thus more apparent to the audience each time.
The live band was a great addition, making a positive difference to the overall mood and casual atmosphere of the panto. Stage design was vibrant but looked a little thrown together with whatever was lying around backstage in Central Hall. Ultimately, though, what makes or breaks a panto is how funny and enjoyable it is or isn’t; on that account, despite looking like it was fun for the cast, Treasure Island drags a little and fails to make you forget the chill wind and damp grass of Vanbrugh Bowl.