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New panto opens to mixed reviews

The Registrar of Independent Schools sings “You are guilty of two failings but I don’t know what they are”

The Registrar of Independent Schools sings “You are guilty of two failings but I don’t know what they are”

The production of a new pantomime ‘Up Yer Bum, Sir Andrew’ has received a mixed response from theatre goers after its opening night.

Billed as a ‘hilarious amalgam of Snow White, Clockwork Orange and The Satanic Verses’, the play explores the antics of larger-than-life characters from the Care Inspectorate, Education Scotland, and Perth & Kinross Council as they con their way into closing down a small successful independent school for kids with additional support needs.

“It’s the first panto set in a Lynchian dystopia where good and evil are interchangeable and where everyone betrays each other but with the single aim of destroying the lives of decent people”, explained the playwright Herbert Fountain. It’s an exploration of the darker side of humanity but blended with slapstick, and that has never been done in a pantomime before.”

Theatre critic Penny Choo was not impressed. “I could see echoes of Tarantino in the non-linear narrative but the way that the Care Inspectorate came in during Act 4 and took enforcement action straight after a police investigation had shown the school was a safe, caring environment, was not really credible. That would never happen in the real world”.

Care Inspector issuing an improvement notice

Care Inspector issuing an improvement notice

Theatre goer Annie Seed was similarly critical. “I could not believe how ugly and cruel the officers were from the council. One had a face like a bag of spanners. But then I realised that the production had not started, and they were just hanging around in the bar having a drink before getting their make-up on”.

Others voiced concerns that “the cast list appeared to be comprised almost entirely of psychopaths. When the care inspectors and council officers were acting, the stage was full of ugly sisters with just a confused white-haired man in the middle”.

Producer John Swinney defended the casting arrangements stating that when auditions were run “It became obvious that we should select these council officers and inspectors because not only did they not require make-up to make them look evil, but they did not have to act”.

Many enjoyed the spectacle with loud cries of “behind you” echoing around the auditorium as Sir Andrew was about to be stabbed in the back by the regulators, and “Oh no it isn’t” when a bald man from Witherslack claimed to have written a safeguarding report.

The most humorous scene involved the Board of Governors wandering around the stage in a confused state before throwing the Head of School and Head of Care into a pit of vipers under the instruction of the regulators. The audience then joined in a rousing chorus of ‘We’ll do anything you say (to avoid reputational damage to ourselves)’ and sang along with the rest of the cast in a heart-warming rendition of ‘We’re getting out of here as fast as we can’.

Although the pantomime explores adult themes of cruelty, the torture of young people, and political corruption, it all ends on a happy note when amidst the carnage of the final act when 50 jobs are lost and 24 pupils thrown out of their happy school environment, the council officers and inspectors go on to enjoy successful careers and final salary pensions. The final twist had the audience on the edge of their seats when the Education Minister refuses to sanction an inquiry into the school closure and then disappears in a puff of smoke.

Amey (7) from Rotherham enjoyed the pantomime but said that she had to, “hide behind her seat whenever Cruella D’Evlin from PKC came on stage because she was too frightening”.

Her brother Tom (9) agreed, saying that “the funniest bit was at the end when Rodger Hill fell through the trap door into Dumfries and Galloway”.

Members of the Inclusion Team at the first night party

Members of the Inclusion Team at the first night party

Bill Colley