If you were looking for a good old-fashioned pantomime with all the traditional characters then Walls was the place to be on the evenings of 23rd and 24th January.
The Westside Drama Group’s biannual pantomime, produced and directed by Izzy Swanson, was Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
There was the anticipated scene of porridge pinching and chair smashing by Goldilocks (Katya Moncrieff). Inevitably, she was caught in the act by the Three Bears. Daddy Bear’s role was acted out by Baillie Smith with voice over by Bob Hudson. Bob should have been on stage but a rather nasty accident had left him sidelined. Marsali Taylor was Mummy Bear and Baby Bear was played by Margaret Forrest.
What was somehow omitted from the original nursery tale (I can’t think why) was a swarm of nasty bees (Barnum Smith, Rachel Juel-Beer, Sophie Anderton and Jane Juel-Beer) with a wasp called Kevin (Paul Sansom) on an exchange visit to the hive. This vicious band was led by their evil queen (Karen Haywood).
On the side of the “goodies” were two woodsmen, Choppit (Rachel Sansom) and Splinter (Stephanie Goudie), the grand dame herself, Ms Auntie Septic (Robert Lowes) with her dim-witted son, Ray (Jonathon Laing). Goldilocks’ love interest was the much travelled (she had even acquired a convincing West Country accent) Tom Tom (Hilary Smith). A versatile group of youngsters (Morag Haswell, Molly Brindly, Heather Fletcher and Timothy Ferguson as well as some of the cast mentioned above) performed a variety of roles from screaming, dancing, singing villagers to trees and bears.
Some well-known pop songs were truly vandalised in the course of the evening such as Abba’s Money, Money, Money being transformed into Honey, Honey, Honey. To add insult to injury, Timothy Ferguson and Doug Forrest appeared as the Blues Brothers Bears and performed Minnie the Moucher in a rather unique style!
There was even a wolf in act two. After all someone had to be behind the characters to engage the audience in the unavoidable chant: “He’s behind you!”
The plot involved the convincingly scary Queen Bee hypnotising all the bears with her hypno-honey. With the bears under her control she set about terrorising the village so she could drive out the humans and expand her hive. Yes, the usual stuff about “Today the village, tomorrow the world!” followed by hysterical cackling.
However the day was saved by Auntie Septic who figured that coffee would act as an antidote – and yes, there was that line from Ray: “Who’s Auntie Dot”?
The final scene involved the showdown between Tom Tom and the Queen Bee and Ray came up as the unlikely hero with the nimble intervention of a door he just happened to be carrying about with him.
Scene creation, make-up and slick changes were due to the work of Jan and Leanne Robertson, Eve Eunson, James Sandison, Evelyn and Josh Sansom and Emma Gibson.
Izzy Swanson (is there no end to this lady’s talents?), Marsali Taylor and Christine Ferguson created the costumes and the music was performed by Philip Taylor.
Lighting was by Izzy Swanson (yes, her again), door duty was carried out by Ron Willey and his good lady wife Betty who dressed for the occasion in a wonderful clown costume. Ushers were Norma Hudson and Kevin Smith.
All in all the show was great fun and the audience went home smiling.