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Royal Shakespeare Company Produces Panto

Written by: Helter-Skelter Published on: 26 Mar 2000

During yesterday evening the Royal Shakespeare Company of Stratford upon Avon, famous for producing the finest plays outside the West End, put on the first night of their new production. The world famous Company has been known on many occasions to perform plays other than Shakespeare’s finest, but this is a brand new venture altogether. Nigel Harrowman, president of the RSC explains: “We at the Royal Shakespeare Company have decided that doing classical plays is all well and good but its not always what the general public want to see. Surveys have been carried out that prove that the most popular plays are not Shakespeare’s or Webber’s butpantomimes.”

We asked George Manering about the production he is directing. “After a lot of deliberation we settled on the famous story of Jack and The Beanstalk. I have always had a love and passion for that play and feel very privileged to direct it.” The cast has taken warmly to it and has really enjoyed getting into the roles. I feel in some way it has been a challenge but anything like this will get the public to come into the theatre.”

The decision for the RSC to put on Jack and The Beanstalk came in November when the idea for a pantomime was formed. However it has taken four months to finalise the production. I asked Phillip Arnold who plays Rear of Cow why its taken so long. “You get a certain pedigree of actor at the Royal Shakespeare Company,” explains the cows arse. “The actors, production staff and technicians have all been through the Academy so they don’t do things by halves. I had to research my role thoroughly, I spent lots of time with the rear end of cows to help myself to understand their complex lives, and I also needed to get used to having my head between Michaels legs. Ha, ha, ha!” We can only hope Michael is playing the head of the cow.

The very realistic RSC costumes
The very realistic RSC costumes

DFTFC managed to get seats at the first night and I got the privilege to review it. As for the performance, I cant help but thinking it was a little over acted for a panto. The poor lovies couldn’t help being all lovie about it. I mean the original script (!) was re-written into iambic-pentameter, the songs were taken out (no “theres a hole in my bucket”!), all the school kids had to sit up in the upper circle and Jack was played by a man!?! When I shouted “OH NO IT ISNT!!” in a vain attempt to encourage some audience participation I only managed in getting myself thrown out for being rowdy and ruining the actors idiom. Im sorry but panto just doesn’t work without the wonderful Michaela Strachan, some crappy impressionists and whichever one of the Chuckle Brothers isn’t dead yet.

sadly absent!
Michaela Strachen

Here is an exclusive excerpt from the play:


To climb, or not to climb: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of my angry mother,
Or to take ascend this beanstalk of troubles,
And by opposing please her? To fall: to be poor:
No more; and by a fall to say we end.

However if you want to see a bunch of over paid fools who think they are better than Keith and Orville at Brighton Pier, then this is the show for you.

‘Jack And The Beanstalk’ by the RSC is playing in Stratford until the end of the summer.

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