Friday night was the very first (and also penultimate) performance of the Lashings Panto. We took over the Pirate Castle in Camden (chosen for its winning combination of accessibility, location and name - arrrr!) and turned it into "a liberal queer feminist lesbian bi queer asexual poly trans* genderqueer kinky cabaret pantomime" (thanks, @scattermoon!)
If you are planning to come and see the show in Oxford, fear not, I will avoid spoilers as far as possible in this post! The evening is probably best summed up by the phrase "from the sublime to the ridiculous", which, I think, is exactly how a queer feminist panto should be.
The venue was completely filled with lovely, enthusiastic, supportive people who clapped and cheered and laughed and awwww'd and shouted and booed in all the right places, and generally made us all feel loved. It's been incredibly hard work putting this together - with a cast of nine people living across three counties, rehearsal scheduling alone can be a bit of a nightmare. But it all pays off when - if you'll excuse the sentimentality and dodgy metaphor - we can feel the waves of joy rising from the audience. I can't really convey this myself so I'm going to give you some of their comments:
"Oh my God, you made a story about *us*"
The Lashers are in disagreement about which audient said this to us, which I think must mean several people said it, and that's even better. As Galatea said, that's the reason we do this. For people to feel that their own lives are being represented - it shouldn't have to be such a big deal when it happens because it shouldn't be so rare, but it is, and we do our best to make it a bit less rare. Some of the lines that got the biggest cheers were not the ones we had thought were particularly clever or funny, but the lines where people talk about their orientations and identities, and make it clear that, yes, this character is like you.
The twittersphere had this to say about the show.....
scattermoon: It is basically impossible to leave a @lashingsofgb performance without feeling on top of the world. We all need more of that.Also apparently a lot of people had ALL the feelings.
Safarazzz: it's somewhere all queer people can actually feel at home, and that's just magical
scattermoon: just so. Like an extended family in a sense. Only wish it could last so much longer and envelop the world.
kaitewelsh: It can, because we can make the world like that for always, one queer showtune at a time.
brassfeathers: amazing evening seeing @lashingsofgb - so good to see panto by us & about us, awesome politics, & all of twitter seemed to be there! #yay
Thank you, lovely audience. You make it all worthwhile.
Still on the sublime theme, CN Lester brought multiple orgasm brownies. There was edible glitter. And caramel. And a LOT of chocolate. And some deeply satisfied moans and sighs. They can come again (WOOF!)
And thanks really must go to Dan, Amy and Jami, who helped us to set up the venue, and sold tickets and merchandise, and especially to Jami who gave back rubs to the cast before the show. You are all wonderful.
Ah, London transport. How very reliably unreliable you are. There was slight panic as some of the cast and crew appeared to have been eaten by the Circle Line, but thankfully everybody made it before opening time (just!) However, having finally got all the cast together, we realised as we were standing backstage that we'd forgotten a crown for the King - but all was not lost, for the princess had a spare tiara! Wondering whether the somewhat androgynous look this gave the king was a bit out of character (he's one of very few totally straight, cis-gendered, not-remotely-queer characters in the show) we decided that in his youth he had been a Principal Boy, so it was only fitting that he might grow up into a slightly femme king with a fascinator crown.
Disaster struck when Cinderella was selecting a ballgown. About halfway through the scene, the rack of dresses made a gentle creaking noise and then started listing alarmingly to starboard, almost drowning the Fairy Gawdparent under a wave of really attractive ballgowns (which, let's face it, is almost certainly how Galatea would want to go). She managed to retreat to the back of the stage, extract herself from the dresses and drape them tastefully over a handy chair before returning to finish the scene, leaving everyone backstage completely puzzled as to what the audience was laughing so hard about...
One of the problems with having such an exceedingly attractive cast, is that, on the occasions when they have to play villains, it does give the audience some very confusing feelings. It's particularly disturbing when they manage to make Tories look sexy. For that we can only apologise - who knew that wig would suit Goblin so well? Well, OK, we knew because we'd seen it at the dress rehearsal. Prepare to be confused and disturbed by the step-brothers being simultaneously adorable and despicable, and the step-mother being, well, Sebastienne.
OK, I really can't say much more without giving things away, but if you're coming to see us in Oxford (Sat 11th at the EOCC!) I hope this has whetted your appetite.
I will leave you with this thought from CN Lester:
Every teenager in the world should get to see the @lashingsofgb panto - and then get a big hug...and some cake.