Thursday, 21 February 2013

Panto press - Meet Robin Hood & his Merry Donkey

       “I want a donkey.”
       “I want a donkey.”
       There’s no budging Jule*. Once she gets a bee in her bonnet - or, in this case, a donkey - I might just as well capitulate.  Still, I’ve a good ten minutes to spare, so why not enjoy a little diva-dom with my coffee and cake.
      “But why a donkey?” I ask. “Pray tell, as I’m really curious to know.”
      “Because I LIKE donkeys!” says Jule as if that explained anything. 
      “What I mean is,” I persist, “what‘s your motivation?  If any.” The sarcasm is lost on Jule, who merely sighs, as if dealing with a particularly temperamental actor, interrupted mid-soliloquy. 
       “Now don’t go all Strasbourg on me,” says Jule, “There’s no room in Pantomime for budding Marlon Brandos and the like. No one else in the company has artistic differences.”
      “Bet they do!” I mumble. “Anyway, let’s not change the issue. Having a donkey just doesn’t make sense! After all, wolves were far more prevalent in medieval times – especially in Sherwood Forest.  Or, we could have a bear! That'd be fun."
       "Wolf - Red Riding Hood. Bears - Goldilocks. Donkey - Robin Hood. That's the way of it!"
       "You're very conventional all of a sudden," I say. "Unless, of course, you’re planning to plonk Robin and his merry men on Blackpool sands. Now there's a thought! Plenty of donkeys THERE! Hey! We could even have a Punch & Judy show in case the audience get bored!”
      Jule sighs again. “We have this argument every year, and every year......”
      “And every year you get your own way!” I wail. “I have ideas too, you know! If you cut me, do I not bleed.....!”
      “Now who’s changing the issue?” says Jule, so calmly it’s infuriating.
      “I want a donkey.”

*For the uninitiated, Jule Watson is artistic director for Act One Panto, a professional touring theatre company
*Speaking of Robin and his merry men, I recently visited the supposed resting place of Little John at the graveyard of St Michael’s – an imposing 14th century church.

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