All The Right Ingredients And The King’s Crown Jewels Make For A Classic Scilly Panto

panto_2014_2Review By Steve Sims

This year’s pantomime Jack of Diamonds was in some ways a return to more traditional fare, but not entirely.

All the traditional stalwarts were there – the Princess, the poor woodsman, the hormonal frustrated dame, the bumbling arrogant king, the vain Queen, the orchestra… I could go on.

What separates Jack of Diamonds from most pantos is the complexity of writer Jon Mackenzie’s plot. You had to pay attention. If you didn’t spot the triple cross then you left the Town Hall confused.

Baron Bane (Dave Corners) was the traditional evil landlord, threatening Dame Ermintrude Buttercup (Roy Duncan) with eviction if she didn’t cough up the extra £12.67 rent on her cottage.

So Jack Buttercup (Becky Thomas) had to go back to the woods to gather more firewood to sell. In the woods he rescued Diane, Princess of Spades, who had been left there by the evil Lord Viscous (Jamie Bates, a study in restrained malice), the senior palace aide, to be devoured by zombies.

Lord Viscous had nothing against Princess Diane, but he didn’t want her marrying Baron Bane, the marriage being part of the reward that the Baron would receive for returning the crown jewels he and Viscous had stolen…

Not enough room for the whole plot here, but briefly, the jewels were planted in the Dame’s cottage and Jack was framed. Viscous released him to stitch up the Baron, who hadn’t returned all the jewels.

At the wedding scene Jack appeared, the truth came out, he married the Princess and everyone lived happily ever after. So why did the king come to the wedding wearing nothing but his underwear?

Well I did say it was a complex plot. Not content with marrying the Princess, Baron Bane via the Emperor’s new clothes scam wanted to make the king look insane and take over as regent. So King Caractacus came on in his long johns, which left little to the imagination.

At Saturday’s performance he appeared and the Town Hall went into meltdown, with five minutes of wall to wall hilarity amplified by every mention of the crown Jewels and Viscous exclaiming “poppycock”.

The icing on the cake came with the King singing a verse from Happiness (say it with a French accent). George (the King) showed superhuman self control to keep a straight face throughout, but he was the only one.

There were some other notable performances. Maureen Carter stood in as Queen Cantankerous at the very last minute because Maggie Dean fell out of her loft and couldn’t perform.

Roger White as Mayor Marmite was a classic study of an anorak (think Michael Palin in Monty Python) and not least Zoë Jenkins as Reverend Righteous whose fabulous Lancashire accent brought Gracie Fields back to life.

And kudos also to director Kevin Leeman and all the backstage heroes.

So £6 well spent, and all the cast had a great time (they’ve all conveniently forgotten the hell of rehearsals). Roll on next year.

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