Anyone who remembers obligatory ‘Christmas’ family outings to see the local pantomime, may feel slightly uneasy at the prospect of ever returning to those faux red seats soiled with ice cream and the screams of hundreds of 8 year olds. However, after last year’s induction into the institution that spawned Berwick Kaler’s creations, we looked upon this evening with excitement and anticipation. Kaler’s pantomimes are certainly not merely for the 8 year olds among us, and the adults that entered the Theatre Royal this evening, left feeling some of the magic they left behind.
It was a ‘pantomonium’ from the start. Dame Berwick Kaler’s 33rd year on the Theatre Royal’s stage saw him well and truly dressed for the occasion, and the cast’s unabated vitality rivalled even the sequins. We were left gaping at the seemingly endless tricks and aesthetic variety that appeared before us, and as the costumes and set grew more outrageous, in true pantomime fashion, the plot evolved to further far fetched heights. A cameo from a crocodile, a flying swan, and troop of skeleton dancers merely blended into the tapestry as the cast galloped over the seas from Whitby to Devil’s Island and No Man’s Land of beautiful women.
The familiarity of the leads carried them through the various heckling from audience members, and moments of improvisation appeared hilarious, with each actor’s own amusement left raw for us to enjoy. The caper bamboozled and mystified. Devoid of the lacklustre, all elements of the musical romp entertained thoroughly. The singing was energetic and melodic, the dancing dangerous in it’s competence in many different styles, and the jokes balanced precariously on the tip of some golden puns, classic gags, delving into the realms of physical theatre and maintaining a contemporary relevance throughout.
“The stars can change in their courses, the universe go up in flames, and the world crash around us, but there will always be Donald Duck” (Brief Encounter): our evening with The York Family Robinson has the same endearing resonance, and we left smiling like fools. Make time between the social trips to the library and the Doctor Who Christmas special to catch this piece of raw Christmas joy before its gone – in a glitter infused puff of smoke and wagon wheels.