The King’s Head, Islington, London, 01/01/2020.
I’m very fond of a good pantomime, with The Nativity Panto being the third I’ve seen in the last month. Like Cinderella at the Vault Theatre this was another adult themed one which meant the odd bit of swearing and a fair sprinkling of innuendo, but unlike Cinderella there was no reason for the bad language as it doesn’t tackle anything close to adult themes at all, and this was panto at it’s very worst, full of some of the laziest of jokes I’ve ever heard, with some being of the variety that would make a dodgy 1970’s comedian cringe.
Mixing the tale of the Nativity with that of Father Christmas and Rudolph The Reindeer, with a hint of the story of Jack Frost, this sees Mary and Joseph Christmas as two elves up at the North Pole, with the latter trying to create a device that would help him deliver presents across the world. After a quick visit from a Holy Holly Bush Mary is pregnant, but Jack Frost wants the kid dead because he’s a weak stand in for Herod.
There are a couple of okay elements found within the play, mostly involving the cast singing reworded versions of (mostly) much loved pop songs, so there’s a likeable version of Aha’s Take On Me performed as Lean On Me, Jack Frost sings his take on Ice Ice Baby, and it ends with a quite sweet Christmas carol which the whole cast carry off with aplomb. Indeed the cast are pretty superb throughout, giving their all with most of them taking on a number of roles, but boy are they let down by the script.
It seems against the spirit of panto to tear apart such an affair when a lot of love and hard work has clearly gone in to it, but then they are charging thirty quid a ticket for this nonsense and I genuinely think people should be warned as to how bad it is. For this is a panto where one of the Three Kings is called King Key and who makes horrendously bad sex jokes over and over again, mugging constantly in an effort to make them funnier, but jesus christ it’s painful to see, as he told the kind of jokes even The Office’s David Brent would be embarrassed to utter.
That’s the order of the day with 95% of the gags too, Mary makes a comment about “The National Elf Service”, Gina G’s “Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit” is changed to “Ooh Aah Just A Little Prick”, when Joseph recounts the story of how he met Mary in a bookshop one character responds “That must have been novel”, and the Spice Girls Wannabe is changed in to a song about ordering breakfast (in a blatant bit of time filling) that is so unfunny that I felt a fair amount of anger towards the writer of the script by the end.
Given the adult content and swearing not even small children would find this funny, and though the cast are all great singers it’s truly not enough to save this from being one of the most embarrassing attempts at comedy I’ve yet seen. The King’s Head is apparently desperate for money and several plugs for their merchandise were made throughout the play, but if they are to deserve to stay open they really need to be staging far, far better fare than this.