Posts Tagged ‘Last Night of the Poms’

I wasn’t planning on going to this. The revival of The Last Night of the Poms had been a huge disappointment and Dame Edna was seriously off form in the Wimbledon panto. Then the reviews of this were published…..

In the first half we got Les Patterson, cruder than ever, and for the first time his brother – somewhat topically, a kiddie fiddling gay priest! Finally, the return of the ghost of Sandy Stone, less poignant than before but a nice contrast.

Her Dameness took the whole of the second half and even though it was the same old stuff (though even more politically incorrect in 2013), with a handful of audience members involved and a telephone call to a participant’s mother (with the added twist of announcing her son’s onstage marriage – but she was in Brisbane and not at home and we had to leave a message!), it was good fun and great to see one last time. In a lovely, surprisingly moving, touch Barry Humphries took a curtain call himself and made a short speech.

He’s right to bow out now. There were a few forgetful moments, perfectly forgivable, but people might be less forgiving should he continue and they multiply. He’s going out on a high and I will remember his creations with great fondness and a wry smile – in a spooky sort of way, possums. Go say goodbye yourself to Dame Edna Everage, one of the great comic creations of all time.


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I’ve seen most of Dame Edna’s London shows in the last 30 years and despite the disaster of the second and latest ‘Last Night of the Poms’, I couldn’t resist her panto debut – as fairy, rather than Dame! Unfortunately, I’d forgotten how cynical and exploitive commercial panto has become (and how they deteriorate during the run as everyone gets tired and fed up) having only visited panto heaven in Hackney & Stratford in recent years.

This was like a ‘mash-up’ of a bad Dame Edna show and a bad panto competing for which was worst. The panto won, but only just. Dame Edna’s fluffed lines and stumbling delivery suggest she’s probably past it, so maybe the Last Night of the Poms wasn’t a one-off after all. She did her usual ritual humiliation of an audience member and a smattering of risqué jokes and references but the attempts to integrate her into the show were limited and what we got was inferior Edna.

One-man panto production line Eric Potts (Diggory in Corrie!) wrote, directed and played Dame, so much of the blame must rest with him. It was apparently Dick Whittington, but you’d be forgiven for not realising this as there wasn’t much emphasis on story or plot. With the notable exception of Kev Orkian as Idle Jack, who was outstanding and the only one who seemed to be trying or even caring, the cast were irrelevant when Dame Edna was on and pretty dreadful when she wasn’t.

There were colourful sets and good costumes (well, for the panto Dame – Edna seemed to be recycling her old ones) but absolutely no true panto spirit (Idle Jack excepted). The songs were the usual current pop fare, there were nods to TV shows, lame local references and a 3D sequence (effective, but why include it?).  The romantic leads didn’t charm you (Sam Attwater and Anna Williamson – both awful), the baddie didn’t scare you (Richard Calkin – boo!), there weren’t enough ‘he’s behind you’s and no song sheet (though in the programme it says Scene 14: The Song Sheet’). It went on and on for 2 hours and 40 minutes, but felt longer.

In commercial pantos they rehash a story, borrow someone else’s tunes, find a few soap has-beens and b-list celebs and throw them together with little rehearsal. If you want to see a real panto, head east to Stratford or Hackney. Sorry, Wimbledon, you are about as far away from my view of ‘The Home of London Pantomime’ (their words) as it’s possible to be. Shameful.

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