There are, in my opinion, two types of children who get up onto stage to perform. The first kind are the ones who have not a clue whatsoever of why in God’s name they’re on stage in the first place, and don’t understand the symbolism of the curtain going up on them. In most cases, they stand fixated in stagefright at the number of eyes focussed on them, their choreographers/directors performing tribal dances of hair-pulling or hoarse-whisper-prompting in the wings, while seconds pass by disguised as eternities.
The other sort, are the ones who were born to love the limelight. They just can’t get enough of it. They couldn’t care if there were 10, 100, maybe 1000 people in the audience. It’s almost as though they’re intrisically aware of the fact that nobody would ever laugh at them or boo them off stage, because they’re just too adorable to do that.
What these two categories have in common, is that as long as they are children, they could never ‘act’. Not even if they were taught to gesture in the right way while they learnt their lines well. I’m not being biased here, but truthfully, children are precisely that – children. They are at that time of their lives where the innocence, the naivete, is completely manifest in what they do or say. So, when you put up a child on stage and make him/her ‘act’, they’d just say their lines and move themselves about, while experimenting with stage space the first few times, ‘learning the ropes’ as it were. And that’s precisely what makes them so adorable to watch.
So how do you write a review for the Xmas Panto? You can’t actually. And that’s why I can’t be critical about the way the kids danced, or said their lines, or wore their clothes. I only wish they didn’t use those microphones in Museum theatre, it being, accoustically, one of the best in Chennai. I had to peice the story together when every once in a while I caught snippets of the it in the madness of echoes and reverberation. The music drowned the singing at times. But the characters were endearing, and some of the jokes truly funny. And yes, Shylock’s oversized paunch made me feel very slim indeed.
All in all, completely worth the money (especially since tickets are going at Rs. 100 and Rs. 50). If you’re in Chennai and have kids who’re feeling bored (or are rather young at heart yourself), you should definitely not miss the panto.