“Me Babbies. Me bairns!”. If this phrase doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s fairly likely you didn’t grow up in the fair old City of York! Local pantomime legend Berwick Kaler has been treading the boards at York Theatre Royal for longer than I care to remember, and the annual production has become a Christmas tradition for many of York’s residents. It also attracts people from much further away, as the dedications read out towards the end of the show prove!
Whilst many productions rely heavily on a reality TV star or middle-ranking pop/soap personality to draw in the crowds, this show harks back to a more traditional era of pantomime. At the same time, there are also topical jokes about the Coalition and the price of energy, as well as a few knowing “in-jokes” for regulars who come every year.
Look out for a real piece of theatre magic just before the interval, which makes up for the slightly over-long first half. Martin Barrass is brilliant in both roles he plays this year, and there’s a great turn from Jonathan Race as the baddie (cue the obligatory boos and shouts of “he’s behind you”!). A special mention too for Suzy Cooper, who’s been a regular face in this production for 20 years, and to Harry Gration from Look North, who pops up during the excellent film in the second half. There’s even a cheeky shot of a rival venue, where the pantomime often attracts the “stars” I mentioned earlier!
Aside from the slightly relaxed approach to editing, this was a brilliant evening of theatre. The kids who were watching it in our section all laughed loads and their attention didn’t wander, which is always a good sign. The adults had a rip-roaring good time too, and credit to all the cast for such an energetic and passionate performance. Berwick Kaler is a real asset to York – here’s to next year!
Image courtesy of York Theatre Royal. Book now – Aladdin and the Twankeys is on till February 1st, Me Babbies!