When a man with a bus pass 2 hearing aids and a parking permit for the seriously visually impaired is asked to review a theatrical performance, those of a cynical turn of mind might infer that the person making the request lacked some confidence in the performance. Of course, to someone of the writer’s well known simple minded gullibility, no such inference would be drawn on the assumption that the supplicant naturally wished to see Ambo enriched once again with simple Johnsonian prose. And indeed those fears, if fears there were, were groundless, as eventually will be revealed.
Village pantomimes are not in essence theatrical performances as such, they are a part of the village social life, just as much as the annual carol service, or the pensioner’s tea party, or the ladies’ keep fit class. As an elderly member of the village said to me recently, “I don’t go to the village pantomime to judge the performance, I go to see my friends make fools of themselves”, and I think that this is a very general and perhaps commendable attitude.
This is not to say that individual performances are not necessarily good, and indeed in many cases are brilliant, but the primary purpose is as much social as theatrical and the audience expects and usually manages to take a very active and vocal part in the proceedings and this was certainly so at the evening I attended.
The programme for the evening mentions by name no fewer than fifty people. This is a very large proportion of a village containing I believe under 400 adults and takes no account of many more who will have played some small part in helping, (or sadly in some cases hindering) the production. To all of them a word of praise, for their participation is certainly due, regardless of their histrionic merits..
I thought this pantomime was a splendid village production which I, in common certainly with the Saturday night audience, greatly enjoyed. It contained a number of really excellent performances but all the performances were the product of considerable effort and diligence by those concerned. Altogether it was an evening of great merit, and thoroughly deserved the prolonged ovation at the end of the evening.
I hope to be around for the next one!