A great British Christmas/New Year institution is the panto (fully, the pantomime). This is something that has to be experienced to fully be understood, as I discovered about a year ago when I went to my first panto.
I didn’t have high hopes, I must be honest. Pantos are generally derided by most people I’ve heard talk about them. I didn’t really know what it was, but I knew it was a play, mostly aimed at children, and it’s laden with puns and silliness. Obviously I’m a great fan of silliness, but I generally don’t like plays, children, or puns, so I’d always avoided pantos. However, they are talked about so much in December and January every year that finally last year – my third Christmas in England – I decided I had to at least go to one and find out what it was.
Everyone I’d heard talk about them before would only say things like, “There’s always a girl dressed as a boy, a man dressed as a woman, …” the list goes on. None of this told me what it actually was, though. So, off I went to the local theatre‘s production, with my WI.
It was an absolute blast! I was shocked!
They didn’t say there’s a lot of dancing – I like dancing, and last year’s group was particularly excellent. The puns were good; they weren’t the stupid kind. There was much slapstick – again, something I’m generally not fond of, but somehow it worked. The audience participation, though, I think, is what really did it for me. Interacting with the characters turns the evening into great fun.
So, now I’m sold – and hooked. I’ve just been to this year’s panto tonight, and it was an absolute blast again. I must say, Prince Orlando stole the show – my absolute favorite bit was his entrance. The community singing at the end comes a close second, though. I look forward to next year’s panto. If I was really dedicated, there are pantos in the surrounding towns, and I’m sure several in Manchester, but I think one per year will likely do me.
So now, at last, thanks to the panto, I’m in a Christmassy mood. The Christmas decorations shall go up on the morrow!