Yesterday, we went to the first performance of Charles Court Opera’s 2021 pantomime, Beowulf: An Epic Panto.
The performance was held live at the King’s Head Theatre. It was lovely to be back there in person. I think this is especially the case for pantomime, where much of the fun lies in audience participation. One change from previous years was that no hapless audience members were dragged up on stage to make an unrehearsed contribution to the entertainment. (And they’re not plants: my partner was one of the victims participants a few years ago).
You might think Beowulf, an epic poem, is an unusual inspiration for a pantomime, and you’d be quite right. CCO took the initial situation (a kingdom threatened by the monster Grendel) as a jumping off point. They then added a battlemaiden princess, a Beowulf who’s good at swimming, a loyal sidekick and tons of family angst to make the production all their own. And there was an upbeat ending 🙂
The theatre is small (around 100 seats). Innovative use of the stage set, sound and lighting effects gave an impression of something bigger, as did some of the half dozen cast members playing several roles.
The performance was great fun, and we got to cheer, boo, hiss and sing along as the story unfolded. The singing and choreography were spot on. I liked how everyone (possibly with the exception of Wiglaff) had some family history weighing them down. I particularly enjoyed a fight scene done in the style of an 80s 2D side scroller. And of course, there were bad jokes, groan-worthy puns and innuendoes galore.
Last night was the first performance in the run, which goes on until 8 January. If I’ve whetted your appetite, you can book your seats here.
If you haven’t come across pantomimes before, I have some information about them in a previous post. Enjoy!