POOLE’S Lighthouse Centre for the Arts has shone the spotlights onto circus and circus skills in a big way in recent years, so it’s hardly surprising that acrobatics, magic tricks and more big top fun make their way into the current pantomime.
Really, Robin Hood isn’t a pantomime, and its inclusion into the genre usually also incorporates the Babes in the Wood to give it more substance. At Poole the babes are omitted, other than as two delightful children called Jack and Jill who appear at the start having bedtime stories read by a girl called Marion.
She grants three wishes, and hey presto, not only are they all transported to the streets of Nottingham in days of yore, but there’s a good fairy (local girl Stephanie Walker, who is quite some dancer) stirred in for good measure
Mix in some classic panto routines (the schoolroom, the ghost-and-bench … ) and a sort of Nutcracker toy ballet and there is something for most tastes, with a glamorous baddie in the shape (and very desirable boots) of Patrick O’Kane of Game of Thrones fame, a “hero” in the shape of CBBs Ed Petrie – I use the inverted commas as he doesn’t have to do anything heroic other than cross the auditorium on a rope – and two very funny knockabout comics, Neil Smye and Dan Looney returning by popular demand.
Friar Tuck is traditionally a fat man, so there are references to daily consumption of pork pies and a bit of padding and a foray into a frock and fright(ful) wig for a bit of panto-essential dame-ness. Perhaps Tom Bright, who plays Tuck, took on a bit of a tall order both writing and directing as well.
Ad libbing is a vital part of pantomime, but jaded reviewers like me can only stand so much corpsing among the cast.
There is lots of very good singing and dancing from the energetic young cast which includes two teams of local children.
But truly, it is less of a pantomime and more of a very entertaining variety show with a story woven loosely in, and if this is the first time children get to see live theatre, they might miss the magic and see it as just a larger extension of watching television with more people around.
Peter Pan continues until 4th January.
Photographs by Hattie Miles