My birthday was plagued with surprises. My friend Bri gifted me one of the best presents ever: a ticket to watch a pantomime (panto as commonly known). A pantomime is a type of musical comedy stage production, usually for family entertainment. My professor Marina urged us to watch a panto, as it is a one-of-a-kind experience of British theater. She was not wrong. However, she was most definitely suggesting a traditional panto. The production we watched was not particularly a traditional panto per se, it was definitely not an all-family affair. It was, in fact, a queer reimagining of The Sleeping Beauty, renamed “Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick” at the Charing Cross Theater.
The seats that we initially had were not the best, they were literally wrecked. Quick tip if you are watching a show in London, if you reach the intermission and there are free seats anywhere else in the house, you could request to change your seats for no extra charge (some theaters are, however, greedy). So, we did that. We moved a bunch of rows forward, to seats that were not wrecked and we continued enjoying the show.
Now, to the main course, the show. Iconic. This retelling of the story had the basis of “Sleeping Beauty”, a lovely royal who needed to be
kissed pricked to awaken. Although this royal was a prince rather than a princess, and his interest was an alien rather than a prince. Interesting take? Yes, a hilariously magnificent one too. The play was also heavily influenced by Hamletesque ghosts and prophecies, with a bit of Dora the Explorer “they are there” chants. It was definitely not like anything else I had seen in British theater throughout this whole semester.
There was also a queen, who you guessed it, was a drag queen! (To me, she stole the show). She was witty, enchanting, and so bold. She constantly interacted with one audience member, who had to profess his love to her to revive her. He did not necessarily nail the task, but do not worry, dear reader, she survived (obviously and iconically).
The production in itself was very “high school production” vibes, but I did not dislike it at all. Sure, there were no flying people or magical puppets, but it was pretty and attributed to the idea of a fable world. It genuinely felt like those books that have 3D designs poppin out every time you flip a page!
This experience was so special, because I got to share it with such a dear friend of mine. We really had a wonderful time together as well as with the other audience members. The overall atmosphere was joyful and you could definitely feel the sense of community! It was also so gratifying to listen to all the bursts of laughter throughout the room. I must admit, though, some jokes I could not catch, because yes, I am not British (sometimes I also do not get American humor). Nonetheless, the performance was enjoyable!
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Paulina Morera Quesada
My name is Paulina, I am a artist from Costa Rica. I attend St. Olaf College, where I study Inclusivity in the Performing Arts. My life mission is to create inclusive spaces for people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals in the performing arts.