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Sunday, 4 December 2022

REVIEW: Pantoland, the online streamed Pantomime

Peter Duncan, the former Blue Peter presenter and chief scout, and a director and Dame for many stage pantomimes has a great deal of experience in engaging young children and in 2020 his company Jack be nimble produced Jack and the Beanstalk in his garden and surrounding area and followed up in 2021 with Cinderella in multiple locations. They were excellent ways of bringing the Pantomime genre into people’s homes through streaming and entertaining young families in their sitting rooms. This year he has drawn on both the experience of those two films and his years as a Children’s entertainer to create Pantoland featuring chiefly himself as a Dame and written and directed by himself with Director of Photography Luke Roberts and music by Colin Cottle.

The result is a well-shot and edited mash-up of creative ideas and techniques based very loosely on Pantomime characters and business without any coherent thread or narrative running through it. It might have been better as if reading a video book with different chapters telling different short stories, like a modern-day Playschool or watch with mother. Chapter headings would have made good placeholders to stop as without a running narrative it is quite a long hour watch for an adult! It feels like the sort of programme that would sit quite happily on CBeebies or used as an audition tape for any number of Children's programmes!

Thursday, 3 December 2020

REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk by Jack be Nimble in association with Everyman cinemas

2020 will be a year to remember for all the wrong reasons and the chaos for Theatre Producers in planning and staging plays will be most keenly felt this Christmas with the cancellation of so many Pantomimes. The usual family outing to a theatre to see this traditional entertainment with its familiar comedy business, audience interaction and mixture of silly jokes and adult innuendo has for many been postponed until 2021. However, one brave Producer, Scriptwriter and Dame, Peter Duncan has boldly recorded a show in his back garden to entertain us online, or in selected Tier 2 cinemas, and for that he deserves our appreciation, applause, and thanks. 

Duncan plays Dame Trot the central character and sticks to the familiar story structure including many well-worn pantomime gags and routines all aimed mainly at the younger audience with only one adult innuendo when a Beanstalk pops up overnight the Dame remarks “Reminds me of my first husband!”. He provides the charming context of the setting by imagining the show is in the mind of a young girl looking at a pop-up book of the story in front of an open fire and then sets it all in the garden of his and his neighbours house. Fortunately, he has a very grand looking house and extensive garden setting with the shed doubling as Dame Trot’s cottage. He retains all the encouragement for the audience to shout out responses at the screen which adds irony to the traditional villain’s response “I can’t hear you”!
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