With so many pantomimes on offer at this time of year it can be tough to choose which one to watch. Thankfully Potted Panto has come to the rescue with a show which takes you through seven pantomimes in just 70 minutes!
Written by Daniel Clarkson, Jefferson Turner and Richard Hurst, Potted Panto played just eight performances at the Garrick Theatre in London before it was forced to close following tighter public health restrictions. The show is due to return for an Easter season in April but in the meantime a digital version is now available to view online.
Following a world tour and Las Vegas residency of Potted Potter, a Harry Potter parody, double act Dan (Daniel Clarkson) and Jeff (Jefferson Turner) return to star in this whistle-stop tour of some classic pantomimes. It begins with the pair discussing the pantomimes they’d like to perform, with Dan preferring classics like A Christmas Carol and Mary Poppins, and Jeff dismissing them in favour of more traditional shows. Eventually they come to an agreement – sort of – and begin with Jack and the Beanstalk. Over the next 70 minutes the pair race through well-known pantos including Dick Whittington, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella. The show was put on in line with Covid-19 safety regulations and references the pandemic in amusing ways – after all, how is the prince going to wake Sleeping Beauty if he’s not allowed to kiss her? And how can Snow White and the Seven Dwarves be in a bubble given the rule of six?
The show features all of the traditional panto jokes which entertain the audience – an ‘it’s behind you’ moment which doesn’t quite go to plan, plenty of mishaps and audience participation, a pantomime dame (again, with a twist) and even water pistols. And although this is a family show, there are plenty of jokes in there for the grown ups in the audience, which will likely go over the heads of younger viewers, from jibes about the failed track and trace system to a familiar-looking former mayor called Dick.
Dan and Jeff play a variety of roles throughout the show, assisted occasionally by Jacob Jackson and Charlotte Payne. When they’re not in front of the audience the pair are busy dashing backstage for quick costume changes which leads to hilarious and unexpected twists, for example a Fairy Chicken in Cinderella rather than a Godmother. The pair are a great double act and it’s clear why they were such popular children’s TV presenters with their endless enthusiasm and energy. They work incredibly well together, with Jeff the more sensible partner and Dan the more clueless, mischievous of the pair. This works to great effect, especially when Dan questions some of the morals around the fairytale endings which will certainly amuse adults in the audience. At times it seems as though the pair are corpsing too which makes the whole thing even more hilarious, and they certainly look as though they’re having a ball up on stage.
The final part of the show, a combination of Aladdin and A Christmas Carol, doesn’t work quite so well (save for Tiny Tim) but the whole thing is such a mad rush that what doesn’t work quite so well is quickly forgotten. Despite looking like a chaotic production from the outside, this is an incredibly slick show and credit goes to Director Richard Hurst for this. Special mention must also go to costume designer Nicky Bunch for ensuring the quick costume changes go to plan.
Potted Panto is an incredibly imaginative and energetic production full of laughter and mayhem. With plenty of silliness and jokes to amuse audiences of all ages, this is a show that’s sure to entertain and is certainly well worth a watch.
Photo credit: Geraint Lewis