It’s difficult to fault the effort that goes into The Fairytale Revolution, especially given how hard the four-strong cast work to get the audience to participate. It isn’t that we don’t want to take part but when there are only about a dozen in tonight it is not easy to get the level of interaction really desired. My God, do they work it hard though, and when we all head back in after the interval it does feel like any shyness or reservations have been left downstairs in the bar, and we’re much more ready to call out.
What is equally obvious is just how skilful a piece of writing this is from Louise Beresford and Anna Spearpoint. It’s a rather clever take on panto, questioning why most of the female characters don’t generally take centre stage, often being expected to sit back obediently while the males have all the fun. Instead The Fairytale Revolution sees Wendy (Anais Lone) heading off to find Captain Hook to join his merry crew of pirates; except that this Hook (Louise Beresford) dislikes being a loathed villain. Instead he wants to be a poet, regaling us with some marvellous (in a terrible kind of way) haikus; the problem being they are 18 syllables instead of the allowed 17. In opposition to this is the Narrator, a voice from above giving instruction and ensuring the fairytales are obediently followed, using the pirate Smee (Helena Morais) to do her dirty deeds. Then it’s a wild ride as Wendy and Hook subvert a host of other tales, freeing the female characters from their drudgery.
Co-writer Anna Spearpoint steals all the best lines as Baker Swife (a nice play on the fact so many female characters are named in relation to the men and not in their own right). Every panto needs some questionable innuendos and she delivers the best of them: her offer of pie is done with such a knowing glint it is almost tempting to cover the eyes of the young children present. As for the whole cast’s song and dance routine as she bakes her cakes, well it has even tonight’s minimal audience moving in their seats.
Underpinning the whole affair is the concept that you can be anything you want, and that girls don’t just have to do ‘girlie’ things in this day and age. It might be a very corny approach to a serious point, but who cares when it is this much fun and that message actually signifies something. It would be lovely to think that any young girls watching might leave thinking fairytales don’t always mean they have to be the damsel in distress, but perhaps can be the one waving the sword.
Performing to such a sparse audience could be very disheartening, but there’s no sign of that tonight. If anything, the cast work twice as hard to finally get us up off our seats and dancing. It’s almost tempting to want to go back again to see this with a full house (of which there are many judging by the booking site). I have a feeling it would be even more fun than it is even with just the dozen of us.
Written by: Louise Beresford & Anna Spearpoint
Directed by: Carla Kingham
Produced by: Gabrielle Leadbeater
Booking link: https://theatre503.com/whats-on/503panto-a-fairytale-revolution/
Booking until: 31 December 2019