We didn’t think it would ever happen, but today, in America, we saw an almost-pantomime. It’s a first. America doesn’t do pantomime.
Every year, a play is performed in the open-air theatre on the top of Mount Tamalpais, the mountain that overlooks our town. In the past we’ve seen Hairspray and South Pacific, neither of which lent themselves to the panto genre. But this year, the play was Peter Pan.
There was a proper, evil baddie, who provoked spontaneous cries of “Boo!” from the audience. The main male lead was played by a woman. And there was audience participation, when Peter told us that Tinkerbell would die unless we declared our belief in fairies. (Oh, how we shouted her back to life.) The only panto features missing were the dame in drag, and the helpful advice from the crowd (“He’s behind you”).
Next year the show will be West Side Story, and the panto element will disappear again. I don’t suppose it’s likely that Maria will sing “I’m so pretty”, and the audience will shout out in unison, “Oh no you’re not.” We’ll just have to wait until Christmas for the full British panto experience.