Friday, January 6, 2012
Aladdin's mum is a randy man
I do love me a good pantomime. I've been starved of them since moving to the States lo those many years ago. It's great being back in a land that truly understands this twisted, corny and wonderful art form.
Luckily my family indulge me. I think they secretly quite enjoy themselves at these productions.
My colleagues are not so generous. In fact, they looked at me as if I were odd every time I enthusiastically informed them of my plans for tonight. So I blamed it on the kids. Still, the co-workers thought something wasn't quite right with me. A bit off.
Maybe it's because they didn't see the old Glasgow Pantomimes I grew up with. Or maybe it's because they're not 13 anymore. Or perhaps they just ain't fun people.
Oh yes they ARE!
Oh no they're NOT!
Oh yes ... Oh, never mind.
This year's pantomime was Aladdin, with the actors all dressed as characters from Arabian Nights. The audience was accused of having a bad sense of hummus and kids were warned to say no to rugs.
A pantomine, as I pointed out in last year's blog on the subject, "is a cabaret in drag for kids, with lots of audience participation - mainly loud booing and cheering and awwwing - politcal commentary, a la the Capitol Steps, teen-aged crudity, awful puns, great singing, tap-dancing and live music. And sex. Implied, of course.
"That's just the first five minutes.
"Pantos have been a Christmastime tradition in Britain for 200 years. They were said to have started back in Roman times, but were disdained by the hoities. It took the English to elevate low-brow to an art form. Believe it or not, Pantos are intended for the whole family. Morgan and Ewan - both newcomers to this egalitarian, proletarian, artistocratic holiday tradition - loved it, and they are not easily moved by things thespian."
Morgan, now a veteran of two pantomimes, pointed out that this year's - Aladdin - was pretty much the same as last year's Robin Hood. Precisely. That's the point. The corn, the slight bawdiness, the music, the audience participation are all the same. It's just the jokes that change.
And now that we've been in New Zealand for a while, we actually got most of the jokes. It added to the family's enjoyment. And they did enjoy it. Ewan was back up on the stage this year. Amy was hissing at the villain and "awwwwwing" at the sad bits, fake of course. Morgan, at 15 was a bit cool for it all, but I could tell he wanted to laugh - deep inside, damn it, he loved it.
Amy - mischievious, un-shy, wonderful, Amy - had bought the tickets. Of course she bought front row tickets, wanting to get me sucked into some action with the boisterous lead character. It's what happens in the front row. Luckily, Widow Tawankey, played by Gavin Rutherford, picked on the guy next to me as her love interest. Phew. I don't like audience participation - and certainly not with a horny, cross-dressing tango dancer who bursts into song every five minutes.
The jokes hit home this year, with the characters making fun of the boys' school - Snot's College - India (our next stop) and the United States. The main scorn though was reserved for their own politicians. And there was plenty of off-color humor as well.
The villain had to shout "Abra Viagra" to get make his rope stand up. It quickly deflated when he saw Widow Twankey, the mother of the twins Hankey and Pankey. The Sultan bemoaning the loss of his right-hand man as the worst day of his life then points out that a man with seven wives doesn't need a right hand.
Twankey was also the mother of Aladdin. She ran a family laundry service, though she wanted more. No, I'm not going to tell the whole story, because the story is not important. She sang and danced her bawdy way through the show with her infectious smile and engaged the crowd, both young and old. The jokes came thick and fast. It's an astonishing task to write jokes for people of all generations. I had a blast.
I do not know what I will do when I'm back in the States next year.