So my first Panto of the year has cued the start of the Christmas period, and oh what a treat this Sleeping Trees production turned out to be.
I remember being told as a pre-teen that I would soon grow out of enjoying the Christmas pantomime, but Sleeping Tree Productions has proved that no matter what age you are, all are able to enjoy and participate in the entertainment of this British tradition.
This 3 man panto was performed by James Dunnell-Smith, Joshua George Smith and John Woodburn, with the storyline being quite simple: Let’s merge as many Panto plots and characters together and have no one to play any of the parts, so we’ll have to do it ourselves. Or something like that. The ensuing show used quick costume additions (over onesie bases!) to create all the characters from Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk, with additional appearances from Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel and Peter Pan… to name a few! There was even a pantomime cow… what more could you want?
It had all the Panto necessities: cross-dressing, terrible humour (my favourite being a beaten-egg joke) and a whole load of audience participation – the start of the second act was a stroke of Panto genius as the audience helped to re-create the entire Home Alone film in 2 minutes, because…. well why not!? It’s panto; anything goes!
But the best thing about this show has to have been the one man band (slash voice-over sfx guy, slash Santa Claus), Mark Newnham, who – with the help of the other performers – composed and played all the music using some guitars, a ukulele and a tambourine. He was great!
As for slapstick, not so much flour flying or tripping over paint buckets, but there was still plenty of 3-stooges-esque fun. Polly Bennett (who recently showed off her talent with three plays at the National… Pomona being my fave) and Tom Attenborough have created some brilliant physical comedy…whilst one characters is running through the forest with the others playing the surroundings…
*man rolls on floor*
Oh no, it’s a fallen tree!
*another man rolls on floor*
Oh no, it’s a rolling man!
I think that, most of all, this Panto does what pantos need to do: Unite the audience through this British Panto cult that we see around Christmas time. Audiences stomping, singing and shouting out the same things in unison, because we know it’s just what you do. Outsiders must think we’re mad.
Not quite your usual Panto, but for something with a twist, a brilliant winter treat for the family, with a humorous-esque of Monty Python.
Review by Joseph Winer
Cinderella And The Beanstalk
The Three Man Family Pantomime
Josh, John and James have written a pantomime. It’s a riotous adventure with a whole host of exciting characters. They have fashioned the props, hired the costumes, booked the venue and rigged the lights; the stage is set. But on arriving at the theatre they realise they have forgotten one vital component: a cast.
A glorious cocktail of your favourite pantomimes! Follow Cinderella on a perilous adventure as the scheming Rumple Stiltskin blackmails the would-be princess into retrieving the coveted golden eggs from the top of the beanstalk.
Cinderella must complete her quest in order to recover her glass slipper, but with Prince Charming, the Fairy Godmother and Jack’s pregnant cow all doing their best to get in the way, these delicious, oversized eggs may not be so easily sought out…
Cinderella And The Beanstalk
25th November 2015 to 2nd January 2016
Theatre503 at The Latchmere
503 Battersea Park Road
London SW11 3BW