Don’t you just hate wicked queens? They may be beautiful to look at, but they’re all bad once you get past that first impression. Sadly, while something similar is said about Snow White’s stepmother in this year’s pantomime at the William Aston Hall, it serves fairly well as a description of the show itself – or at least the first half.
There’s no doubting that the costumes and sets – particularly the queen’s magic mirror – are really impressive, but the amount of money spent on them could perhaps have been put to better use getting a half-decent script. Telling the audience that the jokes don’t get any better and they’ve paid to entertain themselves is an old standby of pantomimes, but when you keep repeating that kind of line, as the character Muddles did, it’s hard not to feel that those who’ve paid £16 are being taunted. Speaking about things which kept getting repeated, one particular joke, which saw Muddles take several facefuls of flour, is another pantomime standard, but I’ve never seen it run into the ground as much as it was with the sequence here which felt never-ending.
In fairness, plenty of easily-entertained children seemed to be enjoying themselves, but surely adults should get something for that kind of money as well? Having seen a brilliant performance last week at Grove Park Theatre which saw the company get the balance of cringeworthy jokes, excellent singing and comic timing just right, amusing both adults and children, it was a let-down to find such poor music and a weak script here. In addition, the kindest thing that could be said about the acting is that ‘star’ Big Brother’s Luke Scrase certainly didn’t look out of place compared to the panto veterans involved.
There is a possibility that the show may have improved in the second half – I couldn’t comment on that, as for just the second time in well over a hundred visits to the theatre, I decided I’d had enough and left at the interval.