Yes, it’s that time of year again; the Old Jokes Home outing to the pantomime. Hurrah!
I was really looking forward to this, especially since I had 2 exams to sit during the afternoon and was in need of some light relief.
It’s fair to say that with York Theatre Royal pantomime it doesn’t really matter what the title is; it is, essentially, the same panto with the same cast playing more or less the same parts they’ve played for the last millennium just with new music and different costumes. This pantomime has a cult following; some people have been going to see Berwick Kaler as the Dame for 39 years so the Old Jokes Home at only 9 years are merely babbies and bairns.
Firstly, it was great to see Martin Barrass back in action after missing last year’s panto following a serious motorbike accident.
Secondly, it’s great to see Berwick Kaler looking hale and hearty after his heart bypass surgery. It wouldn’t be the same without him.
The problem with this year’s panto though is that it was clearly suffering from lack of time to prepare it properly. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it very much. The slapstick was silly, David Leonard’s evil Dr McCarb was a wonderful baddy and there were the usual pauses whilst cast members got their giggles under control. It just felt as though there hadn’t been time to do a proper script – I assume there is one so people have a point of reference to riff from – and the time had to be filled up with a lot of singing and dancing. I did like “Stand by your Mam” though.
York Theatre Royal pantomime is, without doubt, a must-see event, and will continue to be. But I really hope Berwick Kaler has a more tranquil year in 2018 and more time to write another stonkingly good panto.