Pantomonium! The Blackpool Grand's Panto - Online! (
Pantomonium - written and created byJon Monie is the panto offering from Blackpool Grand this year. Due to the covid crisis it did not get to see a run but this filmed version by Jake Powell does not seem to lose any of the fun, wit and energy of a perfectly pitched family panto.
Running at an hour the cast of 4 create 6 characters who take us through a fully staged panto from UK Productions filmed onstage at The Grand.

The task for Prince Charmless and "Ensemble Girl" is to find Fairy Tales and the book of panto before they are lost forever to the Baddie, Killjoy; at this point all imagination will end and the panto stories we know and love will be lost forever.

Nick Wilton is an excellent Dame Tilly Topps / Fairy Tales; ensuring the comedy is full of dynamic fun and traditional "business." It is hard to believe it is not filmed in front of a live audience such is the quality of the the performances. Tom Lister is a gloriously gormless Prince Charmless; full of self importance, clad in lycra and an utterly daft but endearing triangle percussion sound to accentuate every double entendre.

Olivia Birchenough as the Ensemble Girl is a strong central focus alongside Steve Royle as the evil Kill Joy and side kick Billy Topps.
The multi role playing is much enjoyed and made a feature of. The writing is sharp and satirical, the social references are spot on and the political digs great fun. The reworking of "If I were not upon a stage" is a fine moment: "roll your sleeves up, sit right down, you'll feel a little prick" or "new slide please, stay indoors, not a chuffing clue."

This is well directed by Anthony Williams and the gags are fast and furious; in the current climate for those wanting some traditional pantomime fun then this is a very good place to start.

No doubt this show will have a life beyond 2020; the ideas are strong and the writing is both naughty enough for adults to snigger and yet be faithful to the audience intended.  Jon Monie has created an absolute gem to get us through the season and all credit to those who have made it available online. Panto has most definitely triumphed and a little Christmas magic has been saved for now - rarely has it felt more important.

Petra Schofield