There have been hints for sometime that the production was about to go public but nobody expected it to be as farcical as it proved to be, containing as it did such high quality slapstick and targeted pie throwing as to astound even the most experienced spectator.
The first act opened with a rumbustuous Old Squire Clarke setting the scene in the traditional way but he gave no hint of the drama to follow. Enter stage right: the village idiots, so beautifully played by Hoon and Hewitt, who in loud stage whispers expressed their concern at that way the Wicked Ogre of Castle Downing Street had caused such heartache and despair to the down trodden Westminster Villagers. They decided to encourage the villagers to stand up to the Wicked Ogre and throw him out before he destroyed them all. The Act ended with the Idiots rendition of ‘Things can only get better’.
Onto Act Two. The Village Idiots (Hoon and Hewitt) reveal their cunning plan to attack the Wicked Ogre’s castle to the solemn villagers. They told them to unfurl their Blairite banners, draw their swords and respond to their valiant cry of CHARGE! The cry echoed around the pantomime village sending shivers of anticipation, especially to the audience in the cheap seats, known quaintly as the ‘press gallery’.
And that was it, they didn’t follow and they certainly didn’t charge. The sullen villagers were so frightened that they failed to respond. The Village Idiots exited stage right with egg all over their faces, trailing their Blairite banners despondently behind them.
On from stage left, right and centre came a selection of heirs apparent, played by the young juvenile leads, Balls, Burnham and Milibands’ 1 and 2. They were followed sheepishly by a group of dysfunctional shabby old retainers led by Harman, Johnson and Straw and they all looked forlornly at each other hoping someone would speak first.
The audience waited with baited breath for what seemed like hours until the silence was eventually broken by a series of mealy mouthed declarations offering less than enthusiastic support for the Wicked Ogre but clearly keeping their individual options open.
On slinks the Wicked Wizard from the North, King Maker Elect, theatrical Lord Mandelson covered in a slimey goo which added to the aura of evil that surrounded him. The Wizard concluded the act with a self congratulatory rendition of ‘Mr Wonderful’ followed with a convoluted soliloquy which actually said very little but was designed to add to the tension of the build up to Act Three.
And we now await the conclusion with baited breath,
The script for act three should include an immediate General Election, the deposing of the Wicked Ogre, and his mealy mouthed acolytes, the installation of Prince Charming into Castle Downing Street and the whole nation joining in a final chorus of ‘Happy days are here again’.
Sadly I fear that the Wicked Ogre won’t see the interests of the audience in quite that way and we will have to wait some months before we see the conclusion of the whole show. Let’s hope that any further damage he could inflict on the villagers will be kept to a minimum, but we shouldn’t count on it.
However there is a serious point to all of this. The Prime Minister of our country sits virtually friendless in 10 Downing Street, in denial to the point of needing medical treatment, wondering how to control a cabinet riven with dissention whilst the country faces the most serious economic situation it has faced since the end of World War II.
What a pantomime.