The Pocket Eggomaniac

A couple of explanations for our American-only readers

For our American-only readers:

* The second, and distinctly secondary, meaning of 'pantomime' is a purely British invention of the last 200 years or so. It is a burlesque show, usually based on a fairy tale or nursery rhyme, and set in some exotic location such as the Middle East of the Arabian Nights, or the giant's castle to which Jack climbs in the nursery story. Topical allusions, slapstick and songs are inserted into the basic story, and there is cross-dressing: the 'principal boy' in traditional pantomime is played by a woman, the 'dame' by a man. Comic animals--eccentric dancers dressed as horses, cows, geese, cats--proliferate. Nowadays, in what some devotees see as a deplorable lapse from tradition, popular comedians, sports personalities and soap stars take the lead in pantomimes, often incorporating their own speciality 'business' whether or not it fits the story. A key moment in every pantomime is the transformation scene, using all the techniques of theatre presentation: in the 19th century, gauzes and quick changes, nowadays drum-revolves, lasers and computerized effects. This 'Christmas pudding' of an entertainment drew its roots and star performers originally from the music-hall, and so has links with the commedia dell'arte and thence with older forms of pantomime (hence the name). But it has gone its own way since. Although British pantomime rarely appeals beyond British shores, in the UK it is the most popular of all theatre genres except for musicals, and a two-or three-month run of the Christmas pantomime is often what keeps a small theatre solvent throughout the year.

* The phrase "poaching on my preserves" means "interfering in my business."

Copyright 2001, Ron Waywell

About the Author

Ron is 80 years old and served with the British Army in India (and Ceylon) during World War II. He retired from the teaching profession in 1985 and, following his wife's death shortly afterwards, took up creative writing as a hobby. Since then he has had short stories and poetry published and broadcast. The North West Network of the B.B.C has broadcast seventeen of his stories.

Ron Waywell passed away at the age of 86 in 2008.

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