Late November, and even the sight of numerous friends posting photos of their sparkly decorations on Facebook hasn’t been enough to get me in to the Christmas spirit, bah humbug! Then before you know it, along comes pantomime season, and Charles Court Opera are quick off the mark to bring us another of their boutique offerings, King Tut a Pyramid Panto.
It’s 1922, and evil Lord Conniving, his charge, Evelyn, and intrepid explorer Howard Carter are making their way along the Nile to uncover the tomb of Tutankhamun. Conniving plans to steal the treasure for himself, while Evelyn has disguised herself as Brian in order to be allowed to continue on the expedition.
A mysterious gemstone transports the trio back to ancient Egypt, and with the help of the young Pharaoh, and a camel named Clive, Carter and Evelyn/Brian try to find a way back to the future (oh yes they did!). Meanwhile Conniving is trying every trick in the book to steal the gemstone back, so he too can unlock the time portal, and escape with a bag full of the Kings loot.
This is of course, pure frivolity, wonderfully funny and jam-packed with utter silliness. All of your favourite panto routines are there; the sing-a-long, the gameshow, and the dodgy cover versions, not to mention the audience gleefully shouting out instructions to the utterly oblivious protagonists.
For all its craziness, the script by John Savournin, is fantastically inventive, avoiding the traditional panto storyline, and cast of characters. Instead we get something completely different which works superbly well. Savournin also plays Conniving for part of the run, relishing in the audience’s boos.
Philip Lee is very funny in his multiple roles, while Alys Roberts gives the Pharaoh a Welsh and operatic twist. Francesca Fenech and Matt R J Ward, as Evelyn and Carter, have a fantastic chemistry together, making it easy to root for the good guys.
Mia Walldén’s accomplished costumes and Sean Turner’s multi-purpose set, combined with Nicholas Holdridge’s lighting, makes King Tut a Pyramid Panto really stand out as a polished production.
Playing to an audience in a pub theatre means a saucier panto experience, with plenty of innuendo and even some flatulence for us all to enjoy, but it doesn’t feel like a strictly adults only kind of show, younger audiences would be caught up in the wonderful ridiculousness of it all. The cast are clearly enjoying themselves, hamming it up to the max and keeping the audience thoroughly entertained.
This crazy adventure will have you smiling and laughing from start to finish, even the biggest Scrooge couldn’t help but get totally carried away by this merry bunch. So, as December rapidly approaches, I don’t mind telling you boys and girls, I’ve finally found that festive spirit, thanks to Charles Court Opera’s King Tut a Pyramid Panto.