The pantomime genre is a strange one, especially if you weren’t brought up in Britain. They are loud, fun and enjoyable musical comedy theatre productions are a show like no other.
Pantomime literally means ‘all kinds of mime’ and its generally agreed that it is based on the early masques (or Commedia dell Arte) of the Elizabethan and Stewart days. In the 14th century masques were musical mimes or spoken dramas performed in grand houses, although by the 17th century they were no more than an excuse for a good party.
How old is the IDS panto tradition? A matter of contention for Mick Moore, who has thoroughly researched the records of IDS closely to discover that design of rooms 120/121 was deliberately the same size as a classic Pantomime stage and that civil servants from around the world would have their learning significantly improved by the great British tradition of Panto. Richard Jolly maintains that the first IDS panto happened in 1973 (editor: have these facts been checked?). Whatever the history we certainly continue to have essentials, for it to be panto:
audience participation is essential (oh yes it is!),
as is some slapstick comedy,
a guaranteed happy ending where love must conquer all and everyone lives happily ever after
And it’s not an IDS panto without a joke about clogged bathrooms, fish and chips on Friday, and at least one reference to Robert Chambers or Richard Jolly.
Brief outline of the plot and themes
This year’s IDS Panto was loosely based on JK Rowling’s Harry Potter’s Chamber of Secrets – Chambers of Secrets (there’s your Robert reference before we even started!).
The pre-panto advertising this year set a new standard with posters from the “IDS Students for Social Responsibility” appearing around the IDS building weeks before you could even purchase a ticket (still a bargain at just £2).
Image: Panto 2019 adverts
This year’s Panto was the usual IDS mix of capitalist greed, climate change, bedazzle and Bollywood. We are quickly introduced to the characters of Greta Hermione (the hero), Prince Harry Chambers (who disappears in the middle of scene 1), Ronny Chambers (looking for his father), and Katy Hatekins all heading to the Institute of Hogwash to start their studies. The IDS sorting hat makes sure they are all in MA Development Studies, and not in any of the specialised courses (“they’re just modules of MADev anyway”, according Linda McDonagall). Download the sing-along bookletand discover future hits like "the thick plottens" and "scramble for Hogwash".
Image by Mahmudul Hoque Moni: logo of the Institute of Hogwash (IOH) . Ness Filch (and her pet seagull Mr. Paulo) discover oil at IDS, and Melissa Dumbledore hatches a plan to sell the oil to fund IDS research and pensions. Overheard by Greta and Bog Chambers, Greta sets out to rally everyone to be against oil being used, and Bog Chambers thinks about the wonderful retirement he will be able to have with all that lovely oil money sloshing around. Meanwhile, Ronny is looking for their father – following the familiar smell of apples, Katy is sneaking around on the trail of a Daily Mail worthy story, and Melissa continues to turn frowns upside down with a flick of her wand and considerable amount of bedazzle.
A meeting of world leaders – the scramble for IDS – including the EU, Commonwealth and the c-Evil society (Trump, Boris, and Putin), descends into a (comedy slapstick) fist fight. Obama’s speech doesn’t save the world, but, it turns out, Bollywood dancing does help. After the discovery that IDS never had any oil to start with, we get our happily ever after with the reuniting of Ronny’s parents – Bog and Sangita – and the uniting of Bog and Ronny. Although Greta continues to despair at the lack of interest in the climate emergency. Another marvellous year for the great IDS Pantomime tradition our congratulations to everyone involved whether on stage or backstage.
As in previous years, Panto has been filmed for posterity and the online version is now ready. There were some technical difficulties with recording, so there's a chunk missing - specifically mid Scene1-mid Scene 2 (no Sorting Hat and no Happy Days song)
I for one cannot wait to see what our talented students and staff come up with for next year’s panto. Until then console yourselves with the brilliance of previous years by watching them online now.
See videos and/or photos from other years: 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018