Directors: Georgia Harris and Stephen Hutt
Reviewing Pantsoc’s Pantomimes is always a challenging task. They defy the normal standards one judges a play by, sweeping aside the usual considerations with puns, sexual innuendo and more puns. Yes, they struggled with the microphones which only worked occasionally. And yes, the follow spot didn’t always follow. But did I have a wonderful time, and leave grinning and humming the songs? It’s tricky to grin and hum at the same time.
Normally I’d start by summarising the plot, but as it involved a tear in the space-time continuum, fairy tale mobsters, government agencies, the possible end of the world and of course, the prom, this would be difficult. Suffice to say, there’s something for everyone.
The onslaught of references seem arbitrary and total (Iron Sky’s space Nazis especially) but somehow worked in the bizarre cultural melting pot which is pantomime. There was a reference to pretty much every high school movie ever, as well as bizarrely, quite a few paint colour charts.
In this morass of in jokes and pastiche I was slightly sadden, but also pleased, by the complete lack of Willow related jokes. Which showed admirable restraint on behalf of the writer, Tom Keefe. In fact, beyond a cameo by Helena Horton, the jokes could probably all have been understood by someone who didn’t go to York, not something you can often say about comedy at York. Despite this, my friend, a fresher and Pantsoc virgin, described it as “University of York on speed”. I think he meant this as a compliment.
Rhys Hayes almost stole the show as The Godmother, a gun wielding mafia boss in a full length gown. He also had many of the best, and dirtiest lines. Charles Deane was fantastic as the head of the F.I.B. (Fairytale Investigative Bureau), delivering a volley of smashing one liners and cutting some pretty impressive shapes during the finale.
The first half did seem a little too long, and there could have been a few more songs, but the huge sense of fun shone through. As ever, Everyone who auditioned got a part, mostly in the high school cliques, which included, aside from Cheer, Jocks and Geeks, a Gleek Chorus, the aforementioned Space Nazis, and, unexpectedly, the Spanish Inquisition.
The voiceovers worked well and were very funny way of linking scenes. The on stage band were also excellent, though possibly under used. Quite often with the songs I couldn’t actually hear the lyrics, which was a shame because the bits I did manage to hear were very funny, but the standard of singing was impressive otherwise.
In such an all-encompassing production I can’t mention everyone, but Laura Stratford and Simon Lewis were particularly fabulous as the Ugly Stepsisters. Jacob Roth was also very good as the spelling bee jock, providing some very entertaining drunken spelling.
Go and see this play. Honest to Oprah, this is feel good theatre at its best.