Pantomimes are not just for Christmas – oh no they’re not! A pantomime production of Red Riding Hood is coming to Enfield’s Dugdale Centre for Easter and we had a sneak preview of the show when it ran at Hoxton Hall just before Christmas.
Based on the well known fairytale, this version is a fairly short production (a running time of 100 minutes including interval) and as such is a great opportunity to introduce small children to the pantomime tradition. I also thought that this version had less innuendo than other pantomimes, though still with plenty of groan-inducing jokes, songs and slapstick!
THE SHOW (NO SPOILERS!)
The plot sticks to the classic tale though with extra characters and scenes to round the story out with a modern twist. The Hood family – Red, Mother Hood (who doubles as a godmother-esque fairy) and Grannie (the pantomime dame) – run Hood’s Pie & Mash shop. Red’s best friend Tommy Tucker (the lovable pantomime fool) also works in the shop though he dreams of becoming a magician. He practises his magic tricks on the audience and, of course, they don’t always go to plan which is hilarious for the audience.
There’s also a love interest for Red in the form of the Prince of Tottenham and – “HE’S BEHIND YOU!” – the baddie in the form of the Wolf. The Wolf provokes the loudest cries of “BOO” from an excited audience and Seren also added “you are stinky Mr Wolf!” to the jeers. The classic “he’s behind you!”, “oh no he isn’t!” and “oh yes he is” were also yelled more than once. Seren has already seen a couple of pantomimes before so she knew the drill and joined in with gusto. This was all a completely new experience for Imogen though she dived in too, often about half a minute after everyone else but I think that’s OK at panto!
There were other interactive parts too such as a dance at the end where the audience were encouraged to get up on their feet and follow the actions (grown-ups included).
We were sad when it finished though we did manage to sneak some photos with the cast afterwards. I was relieved that the kids were happy to stand next to the Wolf for a photo, showing that whilst being a great comedy baddie, he wasn’t going to give them nightmares!
The show is aimed at families with children 3+ though younger ones are welcome and Imogen (aged 2.5) very much enjoyed her first theatre experience. I had been wondering whether it would be a mistake to take her as she really struggles to sit still but when the lights went down and the curtains opened she was fascinated with the scenes unfolding before her. The frequent audience participation helped keep things interesting for her too.
I know that the tale has caught Seren’s imagination as she has chosen to dress up as Little Red Riding Hood for World Book Week! Also, the Hoxton Hall venue is beautiful and so easy for us to get to so I’ll be keeping an eye out for more family productions there.
Red Riding Hood runs at the Dugdale Centre from the 1st to the 17th April (with shows for schools on the 30th and 31st March). Bookings being taken now! www.dugdalecentre.co.uk.
We were given complimentary tickets to the show for the purposes of review but opinions are my own. A version of this review first appeared in the Our Enfield magazine.