There are plenty of local traditions in amateur theatre that the Jolly Lion has been experiencing for the first time across the last twelve months and the latest of these has been the annual pantomime from the Brixham Operatic And Dramatic Society, which ran from 15 to 18 February 2012 at the Brixham Theatre. They staged the Alan P. Frayn variation on ‘Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates’, the most fashionable pantomimes in the bay this winter it would seem, and not without reason. From the creative team of Jane Barnby directing, with Peter Mead the musical director and choreography by Lindsey Hampson, this is a pantomime to give opportunities to all and showcase the local talent.
An interesting group, they have a large pool of performers from which to pick and allow everyone to play to their strengths. Greg Hopkins was the lynchpin of the night, playing Captain Seasalt, the straightest character and the recognisable man in the midst of the panto characters. Characters like this allow you suspend disbelief at all of the delightful madness that go on around you, and he made a warm father figure to Juanita.
Juanita was played by Olivia Vango, who gave a performance that stood out as the actress most comfortable on stage. Every song and dance delivered with an energy that showed that she was the benchmark to which everyone else would rise to. Together she and Taylor Bond, playing Robinson Crusoe, presented a young couple clearly having fun and very much in love. In the meantime, Bond showed some great skills in comedy, mixed with swashbuckling and thigh-slapping to rival any leading boy.
As villains on stage, Darryn Dunn’s Captain Cut Throat had a cheeky twinkle in his eye, revelling in the boos and hisses, whilst poor Andrew Baldrey as Davey Jones was lost behind a mask in a performance that the audience could see was frightening but could not make out all that was said. A constant complaint from shows this winter seems to be relating to microphones, but this was the latest in the line of shows where the technology lets down the performances. Probably blips easily ironed out, but the more technology we introduce to amateur shows, the more technical rehearsal we need to get these things right.
Jonathan Bond gave a lovely Dame as Margarita Juicilita, equally saucy with the audience and motherly to her sons, with Harry Bower as Nutty Nick whose concerns that his nuts would be nicked allowed for audience participation to delight all ages. As somebody easily pleased with a bit of slapstick, I enjoyed the scene in the ship’s galley tremendously, whilst those who prefer the bad puns and worse panto humour would be delighted by the antics of the show’s comedy double act. Throw in a cheerful fairy and a chorus who give it their all whether they be singing, dancing or chatting over a piece of rope and you have a crowd pleasing pantomime.
The more pantomimes I see, the more I consider the value is measuring their success by how much I laugh, but on a scale of right place/wrong place laughter. There are places where you know you’re being encouraged to laugh because of how funny it is (the greatest success in this show is Lindsey Hampson’s performance as Mumbo Jumbo, a cameo role in the second half which had us all in pieces, almost unable to breath for laughing) as opposed to the places where you’re not sure if you’re supposed to be laughing (on this occasion, a well-realised giant fluorescent snail surrounded by dancing octopuses as Robinson Crusoe bravely performs ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ amidst the bonkers visuals with half the audience trying to stifle a laugh and the other half start tutting at those who have already broken down). Perhaps this is more than half the fun, particularly when there was a moment of silence on stage, and one of the leads looks out to the audience and says simply, “awkward!” A priceless moment where we all want you to succeed all the more.
Were I to measure the show on how much I enjoyed my night, the group are welcoming, the theatre is beautiful and the show was one that I was happy to talk about all week, so much did it bring me pleasure. These pirates brought me to the other side of Torbay and introduced me to a hidden treasure.
For more information visit: www.boads.co.uk
Last Review from the Brixham Theatre: The Pauper’s Path to Hope