The Hexagon Theatre in Reading is running its annual pantomime, Dick Wittington.
Interactive theatre where the audience, predominatly under 4ft tall, get to shout out ‘He’s behind you’, and “BOO!” and hisssssszzzzzz as loud as they want when the clearly marked baddie comes on the stage. The baddie in this case was dressed in black leather with a huge fake furry chest, long tail, and the name ‘King Rat’.
The pantomime hero, the principle boy, is played by a girl wearing tights, no trousers, and thigh length leather boots who enjoys repeatedly slapping her outer-thigh with her hand and falling in love with the leading lady who is a lady. A man in outrageous, colourful costumes plays an unmarried woman, the ‘Dame’. A young chap coordinates audience participation, facilitates the storyline and everyone’s happiness. I’d quite like one of those.
In Dick Wittington there were doses of singing competitions, where volume supercedes musicality, between the two halves of the auditorium. Some songs required rather tricky accompanying hand-actions, during which I accidently whacked the lady sitting next to me and generally got everything all topsy turvy. There are also some slow, soppy, songs in a pantomime. Luckily, watching the shorter contingent of the audience wave brightly coloured lit-wands around made the soppy songs entertaining.
For those who enjoy a heated debate, like myself, there were many opportunities to argue with the cast ‘Oh no he isn’t’….’oh yes he is’…. The occassional slap stick humour, outstandingly bad jokes and the Dames costumes that beggar belief ensured the tone of the event stayed firmly in the realm of the fantastically ridiculous. At one point the Dame wore a dress in the form of what looked like the Tower of London.
Audience birthdays on the performance day were announced in the penulitmate scene. I’m thinking of relocating my Brithday to mid December.
Plot spoiler (look below the next paragraph)
The plot invariably ends with the leading man (woman) and lady (woman) getting together, the baddy being converted (normally by magic), and the dame continuing to be a dame.
Plot spoiler over (start reading here)
It was all jolly good fun. Happy holiday season.