Dick Whittington and His Cat
It’s February – so it must be time for the Village Pantomime – in the dark days after Christmas the trusty band of the Somborne Players get together to rehearse – what a fabulous way to drive away the winter blues. By my count something like 35 families have been involved in one way or another in putting on the show – that’s amazing. Using some very, very rough mathematics and wild guesswork that’s probably just short of 10% of the Somborne’s population (working on the principal that the village website is up to date numbers wise).
Having never been to the Somborne Panto before I had no real idea of what to expect – clearly everyone in the hall was full of anticipation on the Friday night and there was a real sense of community as people greeted each other and caught up on the gossip. Raffle tickets were being sold and there was a good range of prizes to be won.
All the elements of the traditional Panto were present – a thigh slapping Principle Boy played by Kerry Natt, a bevy of villagers, songs and a great selection of groan jokes – the audience joined in with gusto when Cannon Shott (David Haydon) picked up an anachronism with “It’s only the Fourteenth Century”. The presence of Bill the Bard (Nigel Coleman) (surely not in Dick Whittington?) led effortlessly into a wonderfully humorous riff that included more titles of Shakespeare’s plays than I could count and his co-worker, Stackpole (Sue Holligan) will be remembered for her distinctive Brummie accent. The Dame (Peter Duncan) was clearly a relative of Dr Spooner and of course there was the traditional cat and mouse chase in the Kitchen of Lord Howard (Jon Cotterell)’s cook. The desperate days of the credit crunch and state of international banking were, topically, centre stage in the antics of Abacus (Andrew Flanagan).
And then I was in unfamiliar territory – I don’t remember a marauding Viking in the traditional story – but there was Olaf the Norse (Lesley Evans) swashing his buckle in menacing fashion in a huge helmet with enormous horns with his Pirate gang and then, stranger still, suddenly we were in the desert and Sheik Italabout (Kelda Lay) entered the picture – cue for another stream of references built around the film Casablanca. Daring-do and the necessary freeing of the kidnapped Alice Esmerelda (Laura Walmsley) kept the story moving along. They say you should never perform with children or animals. And, yes, both fulfilled their traditional role of upstaging the grown ups. The star of the show was the Camel (hiding Melanie Haydon and Pollyann Monk beneath its hump), which was by turns haughty, flirtatious, daffy and curious. And, of course, we mustn’t forget Lauren Cartwright as the essential feline sidekick.
This was an evening of real enjoyment – I’m sure that, as I’m new to the village, I missed loads of local references – but I shall never meet my neighbours again without seeing them in a completely different light! It was huge fun, everyone in the hall was having a great time and that includes the cast. It is traditional on these occasions to make a number of thank yous and of course these go to Sue Jackson for directing the show, Sue Spurling for organising front of house – including the much enjoyed choc ices - Vicky Burden, Chris Hall and Melanie Haydon for extensive production work and all other cast and crew members who gave up so many afternoons and evenings to make the show come together in such a slick, professional way. There must also be a number of unsung and uncredited heroes who provided endless lifts to and from rehearsals, listened to lines learned again and again and provided moral support to nervous. To everyone a big thank you and we all look forward to next February…
But if you can’t wait that long, make sure you get your tickets for the Murder Mystery evening, presented by the Players in association with the Sombornes School Association. After the roaring success of last year, this is bound to be another sell out fund raising event. If you would like to join the Players or be added to our contacts list, please email us at email@example.com or simply check out our website at www.giraffeandtiger.plus.com/players
Review written for the Gauntlet by Janet Mein