Review: Batman The Pantomime

 The Light Entertainment Society does not pretend to be anything that it is not: the style is in the name – this isn’t trying to be anything heavier than a feather. This term’s pantomime, written by two members (scripts are submitted at the end of each term, from which one is chosen) takes inspiration from the story of Batman. The plot is still not entirely clear to me, but seems to have two main strands: Robin and Batman have a falling out over Robin’s indignation at Batman’s patronising treatment of him (‘you treat me like an unwanted child!’), so Robin runs away with the Joker, although those who fear a complete upset of the well-loved duo are assured early on that the pair will reconcile (‘maybe even with a catchy finale song!’). Meanwhile a motley crew of villains, who I see involved in a tense game of cards, plot their escape from the Arkham Asylum.

Excitement abounds in the rehearsal room, full of the large cast with a disproportionate amount of excitingly-coloured hair. The acting is unpretentious and the actors are clearly enjoying themselves, as befits the ethos of the society. Everyone who auditioned for the show got a part, with a few characters being written into the script for this purpose, and few have extensive acting experience: the emphasis is very much on taking part and having fun, which was clear from the general chaos and hilarity in the manic but utterly enthusiastic and friendly rehearsal room. Both chaos and hilarity transferred themselves to the stage, with ad-libbing, forgotten lines and entire digressions tolerated good-heartedly. Some moments were particularly funny: director Martin Corcoran as the camp Catwoman (the obligatory drag character, wearing a stylish lycra ‘cat’suit) stood out, and there are some great one liners, such as Catwoman’s fine chat-up line: ‘you know what my favourite sea-food is? Bulging muscles’.

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It includes song and dance with an original score, written collaboratively by members – again anyone who wants to can take part in the creative process.  The Joker’s song explaining to Robin why he is such an excellent villain is full of slapstick and puns, like the rest of the pantomime. The show will not win over those who don’t enjoy pantomimes, or who aren’t amused by seriously light entertainment. But the proceeds all go to charity, and it’s fun – both good reasons to get into the OULES spirit.