Which Norfolk pantomime was so funny it almost made me wet myself?
PUBLISHED: 12:51 30 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:51 30 December 2019
Liz Nice is getting to the age when too much laughing isn't necessarily a good thing
My friend Helen McDermott (aka Anglia TV legend) always maintains that pantomime is the hardest theatre to do.
'All that ad libbing,' she says, 'it takes a heck of a lot of rehearsing to be that off the cuff!'
(She did say heck, I'm sure of it. Oh no she didn't. Oh yes she did!).
At the weekend, I attended the pantomime that Helen's company, Ohyesitiz Productions, which she runs with her friend Des Barrit, the show's director, was putting on at Gorleston Pavilion Theatre.
I went last year when my life was still a bit awry and I remember crying in one bit when Sleeping Beauty was lamenting her luck in love.
This year, it was Jack and the Beanstalk and I decided to bring my parents along as well as my two boys.
Mum and Dad were especially excited, having not been to a pantomime for years and were thrilled to be meeting Helen as well.
"I wish you were still on the telly,' I overheard my father saying as soon as he and Helen had sat down.
Funny how absolutely everyone who meets Helen for the first time says exactly the same thing!
I love the Pavilion Theatre. The way they have everyone at little tables feels like a revelation. No spilled drinks. A really relaxed feel. And no one's bottom spilling on to yours. No one enjoys bottom spillage at the best of times and it is always particularly acute at the theatre I find. I sat next to the comedian David Mitchell at the National once. Never have I been so clenched.
But I digress.
You may also want to watch:
Anyway, my parents couldn't get over the Pavilion. Why wasn't theatre always like this?
The same could be said for the show. Of course I'm slightly biased, but I felt this pantomime was the best I have seen yet.
It had everything. Daisy, the pantomime cow, a handsome lead, Tom Holland, his wife, Eloise Hare, playing Jill (so they don't exactly have to fake the love scenes - one hopes) and the best pantomime dame you will ever see in Matthew Siveter.
Matthew has an amazing voice, brilliant timing and, as a fantastic ballerina set-piece reveals, he can dance as well, which impressed my mother who was a ballroom champion in her time and is a ruthless as Craig Revel Horwood when it comes to passing her verdict on one's talent in this regard.
(I know I've told regular readers this before, but yes I'm still bitter that, aged five I was told not to bother having ballet lessons because 'You have two left feet like your father'.)
Matthew's version of Swan Lake made me laugh so much I fear I may have slightly wet myself. Well, I am getting to that age.
And my eldest son was equally impressed, saying that the dame was 'definitely the best', although my youngest may have offended 'Dame Trott' slightly when he was one of the children who went on stage to help with a rousing version of Old Macdonald.
When asked for his favourite character in the show, he blithely told Matthew that it was Simple Simon (played by Toby Watts). Dame Trott managed to overcome the stinging put down, but I learned from Helen that 'Simon', appearing in his first pantomime, was thrilled.
The thing about going to the pantomime every year is that it marks time and reminds you of where you were last year and where you are now.
I don't imagine I'm spoiling it at all by revealing that Jack and Jill got together, Dame Trott got to have the evil villain in her power, and Daisy the cow was saved because if pantomime didn't end with everything being all right with the world, I imagine there would be a riot, even in the civilised environment of the Gorleston Pavilion. (I noticed that rather a lot of Prosecco was consumed so one can't be too careful).
As the show closed, poor Simple Simon was the only one still waiting for his happy ending.
But what pantomime promises, and why we all love it so much, is the reminder that we will all get there in the end.