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So what makes a show a pantomime?  Well, there are certain essential elements: a pantomime dame; a male role played by a female; lots of shouting from the audience.  Oh, and the all-important throwing of the sweets!  Red Riding Hood versus the Wolf includes all of these elements, but despite this it is not your typical British pantomime. Read on…

Red Riding Hood versus the Wolf is set in Stanton-on-the-Briar, a place which has been taken over by an obsessive fear of wolves.  We join the community at the annual Red Riding Hood Parade, marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Red Riding Hood’s grandma.

As the story unfolds, we see the traditional Red Riding story played out, but then… Then we see an entirely new and different version of events, a version which throws up all sorts of interesting questions and dilemmas.

For me the star of the show was the wolf – Victor Von Crepe, played by Kerry Frampton.  She was definitely a favourite with the audience, especially the children, many of whom were completely enthralled with the villain’s performance, standing up and yelling their heads off at the stage.

Rikki Chamberlain was unforgettable in the traditional pantomime dame role, playing the absent-minded Ms Forgetmenot.  Susannah Austin was the Ms Versatility of the production, playing the narrator and numerous other parts, doing a bit of everything and generally keeping the action moving along in admirable fashion.  Claire Burns in the title role of Scarlett produced a creditable performance as a rebellious, sometimes sulky teenager.

Also a major part of the production, but not professional actors, are the groups of young people from Stantonbury International School who between them play the roles of  villagers, children, Hamlet (a pig), guards, councillors and wolves.  There are three teams of around a dozen school students who share out the performances and generally act, dance and sing their hearts out.

So this is not a big budget panto and there are no animatronic dinosaurs, underwater sequences or massive magic tricks.  However the performance does not suffer in the least as a result, and what might be missing as a result of not having a vast budget is made up for in ingenuity.  For example the younger members of the cast play bedsheets and tree stumps, which is actually very entertaining.  They turn back time in a very effective, but low-budget manner – I won’t describe this, you will have to go and see the performance to find out how they do it!

But most importantly, this pantomime is not all about silliness.  You can enjoy it just at that level if you’d rather, but there are all sorts of themes and undercurrents going on which you can have a think about if you like.

Red Riding Hood versus the Wolf is at Stantonbury Theatre from Wednesday 19th December to Monday 24th December and then from Thursday 27th December to Monday 31st December.  You can book tickets online. I would recommend it – it’s not your average panto.  Go see it!

Stantonbury Theatre Scarlett fights the wolf

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