If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember that I have a particular fondness for this time of year. It’s not because of of Christmas celebrations, or getting together with family, or even seasonal sales 🤑 . No, it’s that time of year when we go to the pantomime! Oh, yes we do! We hiss and boo at the villain, we sing along, and we cheer when the good guys win.
Of course, 2020 has been challenging in so many ways. I was somewhat dubious about any shows running. So I was delighted that my favourite opera company, the Charles Court Opera, had adapted a pantomime for online viewing. An excellent opportunity for front row seats without worrying about being dragged up on stage for an audience participation (aka humiliation) event. (Though that risk is part of the fun as well). For this year’s show, CCO opted for a light adaptation of Mirror Mirror, which was their Christmas pantomime in 2015. So, how did they do? We found out earlier this evening.
Before writing this part of the review, I addressed some stuff about how to access the show. But since it didn’t make for very interesting reading (I should know: I wrote it!), I’ve moved the technical bits to the end of the post. In summary, the show was a lot of fun, despite missing the ambience of being there as part of an audience.
A possible advantage of filming was that we got to see the characters closer up than we usually would in a live performance. I know nothing about filming, but presumably the cameras were placed so as to be most effective. In live performances, I’ve tended to think of the set as “behind” the characters a lot of the time. With the close camera view, it felt to me as if the characters were more “inside” the environment. I’m trying not to spoil things here, but one particular shot was taken from an angle that simply couldn’t have been done in a live performance, and it worked really well.
As always, the singing was great, and the sound quality was clear. It looked like all the cast members were having fun, from the cackling villain to the love-lorn prince, his hapless sidekick, the seven-in-one dwarf and of course
the dame Snow White herself. They’ve done a grand job of bringing the show into our houses since we’re not able to see them any other way, and it worked remarkably well.
The TLDR part of this review is that this pantomime is well worth a virtual trip. You can get your tickets here, and the performance is available until 3 January. Oh, and obviously because it’s online, you can watch it no matter where you are 🙂
Here’s a bit of
preamble information about how watching the online show works. You can choose whether your ticket is for the “adult” or “family-friendly” version of the (pre-recorded) show. One ticket allows a household to view the show as many times as they want during the time period when the show is available (15 December 2020-3 January 2021, at time of writing this). You book through the King’s Head Theatre website, where you need to create an account. Your ticket arrives as an emailed link, and you need to log into your King’s Head Theatre account to view the show.
It’s streamed, so you need an internet connection with reasonable bandwidth. Our home broadband subscription is designed for businesses, and there were a couple of points with a touch of lag. The blurb mentions “interactive viewer-choice moments.” Here, the show pauses and you’re (unsurprisingly) given a choice with an appropriate voiceover. A completely made-up example might be “Press button A to drink the potion” vs “Press button B to throw the potion away.” There were a few of these, with a ~30 second countdown to respond. I really liked the idea, but we found the buttons didn’t always appear, and we couldn’t figure what we were/weren’t doing when they did appear. It wasn’t a big deal, however.