Review – Pantoland at the Palladium

Wednesday 16 December 2020

This time last year it didn’t seem possible there wouldn’t be panto this year.

Until a few months ago, it didn’t seem possible there would be any panto this year.

And now we have this situation, people working tirelessly to salvage something from the theatrical wreckage of 2020 only to have a Tier 3 lid clamped firmly on it.

By chance we were lucky enough to have booked for the last of what turned out to be only a handful of performances. And what a night it was too.

For the record, such great care has gone into it, it all felt perfectly safe. Titfers off to Andrew Lloyd Webber (yes, we really said that) for the efforts he and his people have gone to. To director Malcom Harrison for getting it on. And a huge doffing of caps to the theatre staff who were exemplary and so super friendly you could weep for them.

Pantoland at the Palladium, is/was set under a proscenium arch of previous Palladium pantos posters with such mouth-watering casts it’s easy to forget people will look back on this cast with similar nostalgia. This year it is pure variety with a panto theme. But isn’t that pretty much what panto is anyway? And if there were no double decker buses flying over the heads of the audience this year, and the costumes, sets and some of the routines were not at all new, we weren’t complaining. We’d have paid the seat price alone just to see Gary Wilmot‘s Dame reprise both his chocolate trolley routine and his song listing every tube station in London, which now comes with a clever new encore of the the Elizabeth Line stops. Brilliant.

We were almost in tears at Beverly Knight’s opening Pantoland song and in tears of laughter at Julian Clary. He performed in the iconic “Twelve Days of Christmas routine”, the saucepan crotch beating routine with members of Diversity and talked of entering Charlie Stemp and Jac Yarrow‘s bubbles. Wouldn’t have expected anything less. The government got off surprisingly lightly, though Matt Hancock was subjected to some necessary rudery. Then there was Clary’s duet of “I know Dick So Well” with Elaine Paige. Did he tone it down slightly for Will and Kate’s visit with the kids the other night? Our sources say “slightly”. Our front row seats enabled Clary to be close enough to mock Phil’s own bubble. Brent ragged for living in Streatham while Phil was roasted with something of a more sexual nature. We loved it. Of course we did.

As expected, indignities were heaped on Nigel Havers, who had to come on dressed as both a Christmas pudding and a turkey and ventriloquist Paul Zerdin even had pre-cleansed members of the audience up on stage with him. He insisted they were real audience members. We weren’t so sure. It mattered not a jot.

The standing ovation at the end was unlike any standing ovation we’ve ever witnessed anywhere. The cast stood looking on in a mixture of astonishment and tears. Brent gestured the offer of a tissue to a weeping Beverley Knight. She declined politely. And it probably would have lasted until Tier 3 came in at midnight if an unusually speechless Clary hadn’t eventually shushed us by saying “I’ve never seen anything like it” then gesturing to Paige “Well, you probably have Elaine” before adding that “Nigel has to get the bus home”.

Phil is old enough to remember the days when pantos would run until April. Rumour has it Pantoland (or “Poundland, but with better lighting” as Clary described it) might be revived for Easter if the cast and venue are available and life allows. We can only hope. It made us very happy for once this year. And also very, very sad.



6 Responses to “Review – Pantoland at the Palladium”

  1. […] Source of the article : New feed at Review – Pantoland at the Palladium […]

  2. sal Says:

    bravo — what a lovely comeback — and how reassuring that the Whinger’s final exposure to theatre would not be The Prince of Egypt –

  3. Billy Says:

    By the way, the ovation and speech by J Clary have been posted online:

  4. Simon clarke Says:

    Lovey to have The Whingers back. I’ve missed you desperately. What about a best/worse of 2020…..just an idea.

  5. […] A West End Whinger,Philip Argent reviews Pantoland at the Palladium, which offered a handful of performances in-between shutdowns caused by the pandemic.It’s […]

  6. Dave Says:

    Panto but not as we know it.
    Some great moments of ad libs or were they? Donny and Sam got the most laughs as he corpse continuously continuing to do so with his duet with Julian clary.
    Most disappointing was the speciality act and a rather uninspiring routine from the Tiller girls.

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