Thursday, 24 December 2009INDEX


Derek Elroy as Ma Twanky and Darren Kuppan as Aladdin.

I have been going to Stratford Theatre Royal to see the panto almost every year for 35 years or more, though there have been years when the theatre was closed for refurbishment, I think.

Stratford always pushes the boat out when it comes to panto, producing a first rate show while challenging stereotypes.

This year the principal boy (never a popular character at this theatre) seems to have disappeared completely and the dame is played with conviction, as if this was an attempt to explore transvestitism rather than dressing up in silly clothes. That said, whatever it is that he's doing Derek Elroy certainly makes a magnificent job of it, and commands the stage.

The poor old villian (Michael

Bertenshaw as Abanazar) has to play a toned down sort of evil character, more used car salesman than devil. There is little surprise when Darth Vadar like he gets turned to the good side at the end. In fact the biggest element of suspense was whether he was going to wear his stage moustache. Some scenes he did, others he didn't.

Despite the wonderful Derek Elroy, it's probably fair to say that the show is stolen by the colourful costumes and fantastic sets. In particular there is an animated sphinx and a moving tomb wall.

Were the songs better this year than usual? They seemed good and the audience joined in with gusto. Classic panto but I wonder if the era of panto is coming to a close.

Thursday, 24 December 2009INDEX