With a lovely sense of Christmas cooperation, ComedySoc and PantSoc combined for the RAG Panto event. Pantomimes are a wonderful opportunity for audience interaction, so who better to warm up the audience than York University’s premier improv troupe The Shambles?
The performers, fronted by Charles Deane, were Harry Whittaker, Matthew Stallworthy, Stephanie Bartlett, Tom Keefe, Ali Heywood, Lewis Dunn and James Gamblin. The latter two were also involved in the panto, Dunn as writer and Gamblin playing the wonderfully devious role of Marquis De Sade.
I won’t bore you with a list of what they did and quoting jokes is hardly funny now out of the context. While each Shamble had a wonderful performance to put under their belt, special mention must be made to Harry Whittaker for his impressive stage presence, be it his composure while at a total loss during guessing games or his performance in the bigger scene game with a sinister character. The best game was ‘Shoulda Said’, performed by Dunn and Keefe. Both Shambles were obviously comfortable both onstage and in the game and provided the star performances. However, joke of the set goes to Stallworthy. “World’s worst thing to say at a Panto?” “Booo! Hsss! Hsss! There’re snakes all over the place!” Overall, it was a fantastic performance (and don’t miss your last chance to catch them on Wednesday in V/045 at 8pm in ComedySoc’s final show of the term: Have I Got News For York and The Shambles) and a wonderful precursor to the best panto I’ve seen at York.
The pantomime opened with a beautiful reworking of Owl City’s Good Time that had a well choreographed dance but was harmed by the poor acoustics of Hendrix Hall and microphones that could not do justice to the wonderful singing. The relationships between the various characters were set up fantastically right from the start. The clashing egos between Athos and Milady (George Hughes and Saffia Sage) were expertly executed by the two performers, the blossoming romance between Porthos and Joan of Arc (Jamie Bowman and Hannah Forsyth) got well-deserved awws from the audience, wonderfully populated with Panto Alumni, which shows the dedication most have to the society.
Special mention must be made for The Marquis de Sade (James Gamblin), supported by Marcus (Oliver McKinley) and Sadie (Louise Jones). They were a wonderful compliment being delightfully evil and funny to frame a fantabulous performance by James.
Zorrente (played by Joe Rawcliffe) had a tough job at having to both keep a straight face and a Spanish accent while delivering hilarious lines. The whole cast and crew had obviously put in a lot of effort that showed as there were no weak points to pull them up on. Jennifer Groome, Becky Thornton, Jenny Rothery, Anna Mawn, Morenike Adebayo fleshed out the performance wonderfully, to the point I could almost believe I was in anachronistic France.
A fabulous production of course can’t happen without the backstage crew, where Vicki Noble showed off her talent with a wonderful selection of beautiful costumes. Stephen Hutt and Liz Pascoe provided a steady tech working as best they could with Hendrix’s acoustics. Emily Coulthard and Mo Egan ensured every musical number was a joy not only to listen to but to watch. Elly Hughes designed the aforementioned beautiful set while Emy Martyn ensured the right bits were in the right place. The thing about backstage stuff is you tend not to know how much hard work they’ve put in, but my god, it was obvious they’d put a lot in!
The stars of the show were King Louis and Marie Antoinette (Ed Greenwood and Golfo Migos) who controlled the stage whenever they were on it. Their farcical French accents and comical affectations added so much to an already exquisite performance, owing to the wonderful direction of Matt Corry and Rory Cartwright.
The only complaint I could make about how the show was performed is that as the acoustics harmed the songs, time spent singing, no matter how beautifully, time spent dancing, no matter how wonderfully, was time spent not following Dunn’s gloriously comic script.
I’ve been told that Vision don’t do star ratings but Stephen Harper does and this evening gets all five of them!