Shakespeare may have been reduced, but now pantomime has been potted. The dotty duo of Dan and Jeff have got form on genre reduction, having taken Potted Potter on tour for a good few years, and having also perpetrated Potted Pirates and Potted Sherlock. Their current revival of Potted Panto is a scintillating, scatterbrained, scatological treat – a frenetic farrago of slapstick, satire, innuendo, cross-dressing, song-and-dance, sight gags and (yes) potty humour. They manage to cram six classic pantomimes into 80 minutes – Jack and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, Aladdin, Dick Whittington – plus A Christmas Carol, which is not a pantomime, but never mind.
The children in the audience, including the two who were with me, absolutely loved it, particularly the bucket of poo and other references to bodily functions. But the adults also thoroughly enjoyed it, even the ones who were picked on to participate in some of the action – always a hazard for those sitting near the front in a performance like this. Full marks to the indefatigable actors for keeping the show going at a cracking pace, and springing constant surprises. One thing that especially appealed to me was the introduction of a ventriloquist’s dummy as one of the two Ugly Sisters in Cinderella, and as Tiny Tim, the crippled boy in A Christmas Carol. The latter was actually quite affecting. But any tears soon became tears of laughter.
Catch this pared-down celebration of a great seasonal tradition if you can. But it is not on every day, the times are variable, and it is sold out between Christmas and New Year. So look it up online to check availability. And for that matter, look behind you!