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Mother Swan

by on 2 December 2021

Panto Takes Wing

Mother Swan

by Tom Whalley, adapted by Andy Hale

Barnes Community Players at Kitson Hall, Barnes until 4th December  

Review by Heather Moulson

A cold winter’s night is rife for a warm welcome at a pantomime, (oh no, it isn’t!), and the introductory humorous couplets between good and evil did just that.  The boldly-robed evil Priti Snyde and good-hearted, ultra-pink Fair-Enough-Ski involved us in participation as soon as the curtain went up.  Their rapport was tangible and played with traditional gusto by Annie Collenette and Roger Hayward-Smith.

The curtain went up on Mother Swan to the strong coloured set of Barnesville, before which we were presented with its witty script.  The tongue-in-cheek delivery by the eponymous Mother Swan and her son Silly Billy set the plot.   

However, either the music needed to be softer or the hard-working chorus louder as it developed the story, but its support and sheer presence compensated for this, notably in the show stopping Swan Lake sequence.  This was led by the charismatic swan, Priscilla, the heart role of the story, excellently played by Nisha Kshetri.  It was tenderly enacted in what looked like a heavy, if utterly charming, costume.

Robyn Bloomfield, as Silly Billy, is a strong talent and highly watchable.  Silly Billy played with the banter effortlessly.  However, James Goodden as Mother Swan was the real lead and carried the show with his wit, strong projection and poignancy.  

On to the jazzier second half.  I felt the role of Priti slowed the pace slightly, but Collenette’s natural stage presence made up for it.  Billy and his Mother stayed very consistent.  Sadly, though, the acoustics remained a struggle in that vast space.

There was wholehearted interaction with the audience and Fair Enough-Ski and Silly Billy, as we sang along to Baby Shark, but not because we were obliged to, but because we genuinely wanted to.  

A strong moral tale of love and greed written by Tom Whalley and adapted by Andy Hale, also the director, the script stayed consistent throughout.  The direction was studied and intelligent, despite some dip in the pace, and lighting, which was also by Andy, created the right atmosphere.  Amanda Harker’s choreography was engaging and detailed.  

With BCP’s Mother Swan, we knew we were back in the panto season mode, and the audience did not merely sit through it, we were all a willing part of it.   A proper spirit-lifting panto and a good night out to get into the seasonal spirit – oh yes, it is!

Heather Moulson, December 2021

Photography courtesy of Barnes Community Players

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