Treasure Island

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.
Rating: **

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.


  1. “Their effect would have been lost on the non-students in the audience” – once again Nouse, it’s a student pantomime, written by students, with an audience largely made up of students. As far as I’m aware, no advertising took place off campus. Part of the joy of panto is the way that it’s so student-orientated – why on earth does that matter?

    I’m not involved in panto, nor have I seen it yet (although I greatly look forward to it tomorrow) – but every time production week rolls around, the Nouse reviews seem to offer the same two star, overly critical reviews. Stage design looked thrown together? It’s an outside event in Vanbrugh bowl. Groan-inducing puns? Isn’t that a much-loved element of most pantomimes, professional or not? As for “pacing and editing”, I’ve heard a lot of people praise the fact that a show with 60+ people involved managed to keep to a swift two hours (shortest panto ever!) whilst still being enjoyable and inclusive for all involved.

    I understand a reviewer is entitled to their opinions, but this isn’t a DramaSoc play. It’s a pantomime – it’s good fun, with lots of students involved putting on something for a laugh. Review it for what it is, not for what you’d like it to be. Personally I think the cast and crew should all be pleased of pulling off such a large-scale event, and can’t wait to turn up tomorrow with a picnic and watch!


  2. Dramasoc Defence Brigade in 3…2…1…

    Oh wait, seems I’m too late


  3. 18 Jun ’11 at 9:21 am

    Tom Crowley, Optimist

    Pantsoc Defence Brigade, chum. We tend to be louder and more drunk.

    I appreciate Ms Dixon’s spirited defence, and while Ms Jilani is certainly entitled to her opinion, I want to say one word in defence of the writing. The script was the product of a writer’s circle, another Pantomime Society effort to open up the creative process to student volunteers. The script was finally edited by the head writer, Justin Stathers, who took it down from what would certainly have been about three hours to the tight two which we’re showing in Vanbrugh Bowl right now. I saw in person the tremendous amount of work he put in to unifying the characters’ voices and paring down the scenes, and I think he did a near-miraculous job. Without him the characters wouldn’t have been able to hang onto their “quirky moments in the limelight”, and I for one am very grateful for them.

    It’s a shame you didn’t enjoy the show more, but I do appreciate your comment that the chorus “never let their energy wane”. They’ve worked very hard and I’m very proud of them.


  4. Panto was terrible… I was pretty dissapointed, having been dragged to campus by a friend in it, it wasn’t even worth the ticket price. It’s a testament to York that just a second away we are putting on Red Snow which I would have gladly seen again instead of two hours of in-jokes, bad dancing and a non-plot. I am surprised that Nouse bothered to review it, though I am glad they are honest.


  5. 18 Jun ’11 at 10:37 am

    Mother Nature

    Sorry about the weather.


  6. 18 Jun ’11 at 11:25 am

    Steven's Mother

    Steven! What have I told you about being rude in public? Your friend kindly invited you to see a show and you take to the internet to complain. Have I taught you nothing about gratitude? If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!


  7. 18 Jun ’11 at 12:36 pm

    Harold, realist

    This town ain’t big enough for the both of us, said 70’s poprock band Sparks. Well this campus isn’t big enough for all the performing societies to compete like this. Happily Ever After and Panto will loose to Central Hall and the Drama Society and everyone looses to TFTV’s brilliant productions. This is NOT a big university with a large pool of talent and the ever increasing amount of performances that take on each other is simply damaging the overall quality of campus drama. We are overstretched. I would rather have one pantomime a year and see a better show than have two mediocre productions. It’s turning into a waste of everyone’s time and money.


  8. With regards to the review, it is a good review, I feel, other than the star rating, which I’m a little disappointed with. However, you’re intitled to your opinion.

    With regards to Steven’s comment, it is purely slagging off the panto. Everyone in the cast put in a tremendous amount of effort and time into creating the show you saw. You could at least show a little respect.

    With regards to the ‘bad dancing’, you try dancing on damp, uneven grass and see what you think then.


  9. 18 Jun ’11 at 1:20 pm

    The One With The Bettys Bag

    This pantomime impressed me more than a lot of the previous ones I have seen for a multitude of reasons:
    1) Length.
    2) Every scene moved the plot forward.
    3) Every character had a purpose that was not too tenuous (a great feat considering PantSoc’s promise to give everyone a part)
    4) It was actually funny – the editing process really paid off. (Some lines did fall flat – whether that is the writing or performance, I cannot say)
    5) It wasn’t too giant a leap from a traditional pantomime.
    6) That band was bloody brilliant for keeping the pace up!

    By no means was it perfect – there were some issues with comic timing/phrasing and some people could work on their projection, and the second half did lack in pace – but I was very impressed with all the performances. There was one Chorus member in particular who surprised me having seen her in a previous panto. ‘Treasure Island’ is a great student pantomime. PantSoc have finally learned a lot from their past mistakes and I hope that they will take their lessons learned with them into the future.

    (As for the plot, Steven, it is essentially the plot of Treasure Island so take that up with Robert Louis Stevenson)


  10. Well, my parents and grandfather and uncle were there, and they all loved it. so much for “their effect would [being] lost on the non-students in the audience” :)


  11. 18 Jun ’11 at 9:49 pm

    The un-named cast member :)

    Pantomines are meant to be fun; they’re not meant to be serious productions and so should not be compared to plays performed by other societies, they should be reviewed on what they are and that alone.
    Everyone knows what to expect from a pantomine; a few hours of frivolous enjoyment to past by an afternoon and that is what it does. it gives people a laugh and a smile for when they leave and im proud to be in it.
    its also much more than just the show at the end, the countless hours people put into making it are the most important for the people involved. it provides them with fun and new people and for me i can’t think of anything better to take up my free time.
    So a simple star rating can never sum up the actual importance of the whole production, its simply one person’s view against 60+ others.


  12. 19 Jun ’11 at 12:50 am

    Emily Thommes

    Sooo, according to the review: The show has genuinely entertaining moments! Shout outs were appreciated! The dame great! Long John was great! The band was fab! The cast was energetic! Many of the jokes were on-campus-RELEVANT jokes! Everyone had a quirky moment or TWO! Stage design was VIBRANT!

    Ultimately this seems like a GREAT review of an AMAZING cast and a SUPERB show! I couldn’t be more proud!


  13. 19 Jun ’11 at 1:02 am

    Justin Stathers

    In response to the review and Steven, I basically agree with Isabel Dixon and Tom Crowley.

    In response to ‘Harold, realist’ – I’m not sure that only doing one panto would improve the quality of its performance, to be honest. It would just mean that Pantsoc was dormant for half a year. You also say that too many performing societies is sapping York’s ostensibly rather shallow talent pool. I should point out that the large majority of this article’s criticisms lie not with the standard of performance amongst the cast – indeed, the performances are frequently praised – but with the writing, which points to a lack of talent not in York’s actors but its playwrights. One playwright, in fact. Me. Having sat on the audition panel for this show, I can assure you that York has an enormous reserve of acting talent as yet untapped. Your fears that ‘We are overstretched’ are, thankfully, unfounded.

    As a director of a TFTV production, incidentally, I feel I must thank you, even if the praise was being used as a means of criticising a project much closer to my heart!


  14. 19 Jun ’11 at 12:18 pm

    Harold Harhar

    “at the end of the day it isn’t a musical”. Sun journalist, Wayne Rooney… who are you?!


  15. 19 Jun ’11 at 12:28 pm

    Justin Stathers: Addendum

    I say playwright, really more of a chief writer/editor. Without rest of the magnificent Panto writers’ circle’s contribution, dedication and hard work to the script, Sarah, Steven and Harold’s antipathy would doubtless have reached new and grotesque heights.


  16. I’ve just returned from a lovely 2 hours on Vanbrugh Bowl, and whilst my backside is considerably number than it was, I found the pantomime to be pacey, well acted, funny and brimming with talent!

    You don’t, or shouldn’t, go to a pantomime expecting anything other than well worn cliches, a ridiculous plot and over-acting. It was a great deal of fun for all involved, and it’s a very good thing that we have a society like this, allowing everyone who auditions to be part of a panto-tastic enterprise. Well Done to all involved!


  17. I agree with Harold (realist), There are too many societies out there, expressing themselves and allowing their members to have a good time, we need to cut the dead weight. We are living beyond our means, the agressive expansion of campus performance programmes under the Scott and Ngwena administrations is comign back to haunt us, now we are reaping the dividends. Soon we will live in a horrific morass of students having a good time under competing societies offering a varied programme, we should aggressively cut this back to just one society which can do a single one night only production of cats (or some maudlin shit by Andrew Lloyd Webber if they prefer) once every three years with the full backing and funding of the TFTV department.


  18. 21 Jun ’11 at 6:44 pm

    Tom Crowley, Optimist

    Harold The Realist’s comments have reminded me just why I’m so utterly proud to have remained active within and loyal to Pantomime Society for three years. Giving people a chance to step outside of their comfort zone through acting, comedy, dance or singing is crucial to University campus societies, if you have even the merest hope of avoiding total stagnation. The notion that we, as a huge body of amateurs, do not have room for everybody to have a go is as illogical as it is poisonous. When they scrape me out of the gutter and into a binbag in a few years’ time, the witness statements will unilaterally corroborate that with my last breath I did cry “Pantomime or death”. You may quote me.


  19. 21 Jun ’11 at 9:54 pm

    Steven's Mother

    Steven! Come inside this instant, your dinner’s getting cold!


  20. “every time production week rolls around, the Nouse reviews seem to offer the same two star, overly critical reviews.”

    A proud tradition that I’m glad to see continues unabated. I always thought 1 star would have led people to see the review as ridiculous, but 2 stars is like a good honest slap in the face.


  21. I take it all back. PANTOMIME OR DEATH