Pantoland is the latest offering from Peter Duncan and Jack Be Nimble Ltd via www.pantoonline.co.uk. Peter, TV presenter, actor, panto dame, and former Chief Scout, launched the website during the pandemic, as a way of bringing pantomime to the masses during lockdown.
The first two productions, Jack and the Beanstalk and last year’s Cinderella, followed a fairly traditional format and storyline. This year’s offering is a little different. Rather than having a storyline or plot of its own, Pantoland is instead a collection of stories, songs, and loosely panto related sketches, which come together like a children’s TV program than a pure panto, although we do get to see some traditional pantomime characters including Captain Hook, Smee, Aladdin, and some interesting puppets.
Peter plays Dame Dolly Doughnut and kicks things off in typical dame style, with some dad jokes and a lively song about pantomime by Colin Cattle. During the number Dame Dolly appears in several colourful costumes designed by Natalie Beaumont. The audience interaction element comes across a little different as there is obviously no chance to directly feed off an audience, but I am sure any children watching will join in enthusiastically.
We are then introduced to Dame Dolly’s son Aladdin, which gives Peter a chance to do a typically daring stunt as he takes a zipwire flight on the ‘magic carpet’, followed by a cleverly shot segment of Dame Dolly flying over the countryside.
In the first break from traditional pantomime, Dame Dolly reads a story about ‘The Adventures of Alexis’, which is beautifully illustrated and discusses climate change. As Dame Dolly puts it, ‘a tale of our time.’ We later meet Alexis in person, played by Peter’s son Arthur Duncan.
Being shot during the hottest part of the year, partly in Peter’s own back garden and partly on location, gives rise to some interesting action such as Dame Dolly having a go at water skiing and paddle boarding, which is a little odd for panto, but will be fun for the younger viewers, I am sure.
While this may not be a traditional pantomime, the familiar pantomime elements are there including a ‘slosh’ scene delivered by puppets which works surprisingly well, and the ever-popular song sheet.
Clearly aimed at younger viewers, and good value at just £10 for access allowing you to watch as many times as you like (for £15 you can watch all three productions), it is certainly worth a look. There is special pricing for schools and groups too.
Pantoland, along with Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk are available to stream online from www.pantoonline.co.uk up until 15 January 2023.