Friday, 9 August 2019

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Shakespeare! the Panto at the Space on the Mile


It was amazing to discover that Bristol University has a student Pantomime society and that they have decided to take their 2018 Easter show to the Edinburgh Fringe. Now I like a great Panto and I like Shakespeare too so the combination was irresistible. The writers demonstrated a real appreciation of the Bard's work littering the script with puns and references and used the structure of Pantomime to create the show. For the most part it works but occasionally the joke wears thin.

Bill is in love with his Bottom and casting for a new show to rival the Pantomime at the Rose theatre, so we soon meet Portia , the Dame character and Iago, the Panto villain in audition. Iago comes between bill and his bottom and it is up to the Dame to sort it out. We get the traditional Panto calls of "Oh no it is not " and " It's behind you ", a bench scene and a pantomime horse (well half of one). In some ways they did not take the Panto idea far enough, where was the songsheet and the princess? 

The casting was a cross dressing gender bending extravaganza with most of the characters played by females doing their very best to play crude male characters and only two male actors as the Dame and Villain. The women definitely come out on top in their version of Midsummer Nights Cream especially as Bottom like to tickle his willie , one of many crude innuendos that the audience lapped up. When Bill's wife turns up she explains "were Anne has a will, Anne hath a way".

Some of the best bits were the songs with cleverly written parodies of well known songs like Bright Eyes rewritten as cast me now and Teenage Dirt bag sung as a Upstage toe rag. With four energetic fun backing dances each song provided a witty and enjoyable interlude.

There were strong performances from the actress playing Will and Bottom and good cameos from the front end of the cow and Laurence Olivier but overall this is an ensemble piece with a bunch of students having fun and enjoying the Fringe as much as the audience did watching. It wont win any awards at the GB Panto Awards but perhaps some of them will go on in the future to appear in the real thing! 

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★ 

Seat: Unreserved | Price: £10
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