Poppy steals show as panto plays to packed audiences

THIS year’s panto, Jack and the Beanstalk from Islesburgh Drama Group, played to packed houses over its 10-day run.

Everyone, from the players to the audience, appeared to have a riotously good time throughout the two and a half hours of the performance.

The special effects of lighting, bangs and explosions added to the drama, but were just a bonus beside the strong cast.

The show started with the traditional village scene and contained all the panto ingredients of singing, audience participation in the form of booing and shouting, and ending happily with a wedding.

Jack’s mother Poppy (played by George Webster) stole the show and propelled the action – and managed to smile throughout in spite of being “as broke as the Bank of Scotland”.

She was so poor, she said, she had to shop at Tesco – just one of the local jokes that delighted the audience – and was threatened with arrest from two ably-played comic policeman for non-payment of council tax. She would have to disappear, she said, and where do people go where they are never seen again? The answer – Hayfield House.

Her cottage (slick scene change to the interior) was falling down “built by the council” and a crowd scene was “a single status meeting”.

The scene changes throughout were excellent, quick and professional with good use made of all the stage. In particular Beanstalkland was a setting of real beauty with shimmering silver drapes and golden lights.

The communal singing of numbers such as the Bare Necessities was very successful, the solos less so, but in all cases the diction was clear and projection good.

Special mention must be made of the pantomime cow, played by Aimee Cogle and Amy Anderson, whose legs were well synchronised throughout and who managed to dance, bend and generally move effortlessly.

The King (Karl Ward) was suitably imperious and Queen Maud (Diane Leyland), dressed in black, conveyed an impression of menace. Useless Eustace (Martin Summers) provided a contrast to them and the peerie giant who appeared after ear-splitting drum rolls provided a moment of comedy.

Full marks also go to the costume-maker, the musicians and lighting designers.

Altogether the evening was highly enjoyable, but one mystery remains.

How does the average punter get a ticket for the annual panto?

There are anecdotal accounts of people queuing from 6am to get tickets, and at least one primary school was unable to make a block booking. A case for the fairy queen, perhaps?

Rosalind Griffiths


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