Coquetdale Amateur Dramatic Society panto delights audiences in Rothbury

Panto mayhem. Pictures by Susan Barwood Photography.Panto mayhem. Pictures by Susan Barwood Photography.
Panto mayhem. Pictures by Susan Barwood Photography.
It is quite some feat to write an extremely funny pantomime with themes of the exploitation and alienation of neo-liberal arch-capitalism, the challenges of farming in the UK, ‘health and safety gone mad’, and the greatest concern of all – potholes!

Yet once again, the remarkable John Mawer has pulled it off! With all the slapstick, visual and punning jokes, great songs, local references (erm… the local councillor’s silky bloomers?!) we have come to expect from the highly entertaining Coquetdale Amateur Dramatic Society team.

It seems the evil Big G corporation has bought up the whole valley, and everyone is poor, and indebted to this capitalistic corporate monstrosity – where ‘Artisanal Muggers’ remove the ‘excess wealth’ of the villagers, all with a friendly cockney smile (perfectly played by Fred Bogyor).

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And my favourite of all, Betsy Burston in the role of Egg Seller, confusing and baffling customers, and audience, with the bamboozling rules of Big G Eggshell Insurance.

Robert Famelton as the panto dame.Robert Famelton as the panto dame.
Robert Famelton as the panto dame.

So, the unfortunate Jack (superbly played by Kirsty Famelton) is left with no option but to sell poor Mavis, who has stopped producing any milk.

This giant-uddered, Friesian panto cow costume was last used in 2006, as Daisy, in ‘Wor Jack and the Beanstalk in 2006!

Jack’s mum, in the time-honoured gender reversal, is played by Kirsty’s dad, Robert Famelton. A magnificent larger than life Pantomime Dame.

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Dairy products gone bad is a theme which runs throughout the show – with the delightfully mischievous ‘Milk’ (Dylan Pringle) and ‘Cheese’ (Annabelle Smith) appearing regularly – when the audience spot them, ‘Dairy Behind You!’ is shouted out delightedly by all, particularly loudly by the younger members.

Morris dancers.Morris dancers.
Morris dancers.

The hysterical dairy theme continues with Reg the Wedge luridly opening his long coat to reveal a variety of cheeses inside – ‘Help, I am lactose intolerant’ shrieks Claire the Mayor!

It seems that all is lost, Jack cannot sell Mavis, when thankfully some aliens arrive who are desperate to take a cow back to their planet, so that they can enjoy earth dairy products.

I think this is what they want – it might have been lost in translation by the sparkly silver robot translator (Janet Bogyer) who brought lots of laughter in her translations of the aliens’ strange language.

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All it takes now is for the magician (marvellously played by Mike Jevons) to trick Jack into selling him the cow, and ‘Whatdini’ is set to make a fortune. You all know what he uses to purchase Mavis, don’t you? Oh yes you do! Alien Beans!

Jack (Kirsty Famelton) with Mavis the cow.Jack (Kirsty Famelton) with Mavis the cow.
Jack (Kirsty Famelton) with Mavis the cow.

The second half of the show should perhaps have featured some warnings! The Giant’s voice was, well, GIANT, and reverberated around the hall. When his huge eye and face peered in at the window, quite a few little hands reached for bigger ones seeking reassurance.

As usual, the audience participation spots were a high point, with lots of children up on the stage to sing and do the actions of The Panto Song.

The wealth of talent on stage, and in the production team is remarkable. The musicians are excellent, and the show was yet another triumph for CADs.