One of the things that I miss around this time of the year, especially now that we have kids, is The Pantomime.
We used to go to see Puss in Boots, Aladdin, Snow White and other likely characters. The cheezier the jokes and the songs, the better. Generally there is also at least a few contemporary adult jokes.
Pantomimes are a tradition throughout the UK over the Christmas Holidays. Containing both good and evil characters, the English Pantomime descended from Commedia Dell'Arte, a form of comedy popular in Italy between the 16th-17th century which later spread throughout western Europe and finally arrived in London in a slightly different form.
- The leading male character (the "principal boy") is usually played by a young woman (although this tradition appears to be dying out).
- An older woman (the pantomime dame) is usually played by a man in drag.
- Risqué double entendre, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases.
- Audience participation, including calls of "he's behind you!", and "oh yes it is!" or "oh no it isn't!" The audience is always encouraged to "boo" the villain.
- A community song, re-written lyrics to a well-known tune. The audience is encouraged to sing the song, often one half of the audience is challenged to sing "their" chorus louder than the other half.
- The pantomime horse or cow, played by two actors in a single costume, one as the head and front legs, the other as the body and back legs.
- The good fairy always enters from the right side of the stage and the evil villain enters from the left. In Commedia Dell 'Arte the right side of the stage symbolized Heaven and the left side symbolized Hell.
So roll on the day when I can take the kids and join in with the booing and the hissing.