London Pantomime Has New Villain: Bankers!
During Christmas throughout the UK and Ireland a trip to the "pantos"–the stage shows knows as pantomimes, whose history goes back to the medieval mystery plays and Commedia dell’Arte with an added fillip of British music hall–is as much of holiday tradition as trimming trees, eating fruitcake and exchanging presents.
For the London 2008 season, one of the pantos–which often feature stock characters of the Cinderella, the Ugly Sisters, the Dame, the Harlequin and wicked King Rat–has taken a topical turn.
In this version of the classic rags to riches pantomime Dick Whittington, at Kings Head Theatre, evil King Rat is a banker intent on bringing down the economy of his island, Gran Canaria. The villainous rodent makes loans to small businesses and then suddenly calls them in, and concludes his nefarious plans by buying the island’s central bank. Explains the show’s co-writer Jon Bradfield:
His aim is to bring down the financial system. We wanted to keep the show fantastical, but there was a certain desire to have it grounded in the real world too. We asked who the ultimate anti-social baddie may be, and this seemed an obvious answer right now.
Like all pantos, this one has a happy ending. If only real life was so tidy.