Camelot the Panto at North Cadbury

1606946_10152018423868267_1917146069_nBEN Crocker, former artistic director of Exeter’s Northcott Theatre, was well known for the hilarious pantomimes he wrote, with his father, every Christmas for a decade or more.

When he was unceremoniously “let go” the pantos continued, and one of them, Camelot the Panto, is performed this week at North Cadbury, just an A303 away from South Cadbury Castle, rumoured to be the REAL Camelot. Not only is the script every bit as good as the classics Ben wrote for the Northcott, but the Camelot Players have woven in lots of very funny local jokes and done their programme advertisers proud with some unashamed product placement!

It’s the day when Guinevere is due to arrive at Camelot to marry Arthur, but the scheming Morgan le Fay has other ideas, and forges a magic document that seems to promise the princess to Valerin the Vicious – ably supported by his mum!

Not only does the diffident Arthur have to woo and win Guinevere in double-quick time, but he has to outfoil kidnap plots, and a couple of knights, only one of whom is visible.

Of course it all comes right in the end, thanks to the skill of Merlin, the bulk of a good woman (Connie Clutterbuck), a dancing bear, a jester and a faithful friend.

No matter what Morgan and her band of green witches can plot, goodness triumphs over evil, the authoritarian headmistress of the local school, the flower arranging doyenne and he champion jam maker all get their comeuppance – and all’s right with the world.

The trio of musicians are directed by Mark Tromans, and there are some terrific ideas from director Adrian Livsey.

He’s well served by a spirited cast with memorable performances by younger and more experienced actors, among whom Annabel Hardy-Stewart as a talking head, Annie Craggs as an amalgam of Esma Cannon and Mrs Overall in the role of Valerin’s mum, Pete Marsden as a declaiming Valerin, Tim Griffey as a marvellously schizophrenic jester, Rebecca Morris as a world weary Guinevere, Jenni Rogerson’s amazingly coiffed Morgan, Bobby Hannaway’s touching Arthur and Steve Craggs as a very hirsute Connie stand out. But everyone involved makes the best of their moment of glory.

It’s the perfect community show, with delights for all ages in the audience, just the right length, with lots of fun and excitement.

And it’s on until Saturday.


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