The onstage rapport of the three actors of Panto-Monium is nothing to be sniffed at. They hit the show at one hundred percent and maintain this high level throughout, interacting with one another in a manner endearing to watch. A pantomime could not work if any less were given, but there must be some way to circumvent the exhaustion with which I left the venue, bruised by the sheer relentlessness of it all.
The pantomime in question is a Sort-Of Cinderella, in which the protagonist is no more beautiful than her notoriously unattractive siblings. But while it followed this general storyline, there were a variety of loud and colourful characters from other sources whom she meets along the way to the Prince’s Ball. The Wicked Witch, the Beast, Giupetto and the Big Bad Wolf all make an appearance in modern designs (as, for a reasons unknown, does Arnold Schwarzenegger), and the characterisation of each was definitive enough to keep the plot trundling along on the postage-stamp-sized stage. The improvisatory air to the piece was also a lot of fun to watch, demonstrating a willingness to poke fun at themselves and the somewhat ramshackle elements that such a venue thrusts upon them.
It was also very funny at times – much funnier than the words ‘adult panto’ usually suggest. Though it had its fair share of raunch and bawd, the comedy was more often acerbic – meta, even – than it was crude, and so too was its polyphonic approach entertaining, as they talk over each other and amp up the volume to full.
But this was a double-edged sword. If there were crickets after a joke, the trio did not have to hear them – no doubt a boon to any performer’s confidence. Still, a lot of the jokes that would have met with mirth were finished so promptly that by the time I wanted to laugh, the next one had gone by, and the next one. The show is a gag machine gun, rattling furiously at the audience in a lack of faith that the first bullet will draw blood. This relentlessness eventually began to erode my willingness to listen out for the best jokes.
I left feeling battered with what had come before, but it’s not fair to say I didn’t enjoy myself. In fact, judging by the two women next to me, if you drink enough it’ll seem like the best show of the Fringe.