PLAYING the pantomime dame just isn’t the same for any actor if he hasn’t got a cleavage he’s happy with,
PLAYING the pantomime dame just isn’t the same for any actor if he hasn’t got a cleavage he’s happy with, writes Lesley Potter.
David Lindsey, who plays the indomitable Arachnophobia at the Kenton at the end of January, had a special wardrobe mistress to help him in this department — his mum.
“My mum said she didn’t want her son on stage in any old boobs stuffed with socks, so she went out shopping for the biggest bra she could find, and came back with a 44H,” he said.
“She then sat down and filled them up with kapok. They’re monsters — but they are firm.”
This is David’s third outing as pantomime dame for amateur group, Behind You Productions, which has been putting on two shows at the Kenton Theatre for the past 15 years — and he loves it.
This year the panto, written by chairman Steve Gill, is Medusa’s Curse, Sinbad’s Quest, and is a re-telling of the Sinbad story, only with a twist. The play starts with Medusa, the legendary Greek goddess with snakes in her hair. The evil Queen Athena is so jealous of Medusa’s beauty that she casts a spell on her, making her so hideous that no one can look at her without turning to stone.
She is banished to Cisteenia where she has to rule with only three bodyguards for companions.
Sinbad happens to arrive, in the middle of his quest to find a wife, and along with his mum Aphrodisiac (played by Steve), friend Zuko and the dame Arachnophobia, they find themselves in many strange places, meeting many new and strange friends and enemies.
Steve said: “We started out with a Greek theme, and thought this year we’d come at it from a different angle. Usually, pantos are all about the goodies, but this year we thought we’d start with the baddies.”
David’s costume is black, with a red ruff collar, and is covered in red spiders’ webs, while Medusa sports a wig festooned in snakes of various colours.
There are 38 in the cast, including the oldest member at 60 and the youngest at eight years old. Behind You Productions pride themselves on giving everyone the chance to appear on stage, regardless of age, physical or academic abilities.
Steve said: “I was involved in Reading Gang Show years ago, and then it broke up, and a lot of people came to us saying, ‘What are we going to do now?’ So we started this group, and it’s been very successful.”
As for dame David, he says the greatest thrill in this most English of theatrical traditions, is the interaction with the audience.
“I love playing with the audience,” he says. “The pantomime dame pulls it all together and gives an opportunity to play the fool and just make people laugh. It’s great to see the kids jumping and screaming, and so totally into it. And the old ladies down the front are just as animated, even if they don’t move quite so quickly. It’s great family fun.”
Medusa’s Curse, Sinbad’s Quest runs from Thursday to Saturday, January 24 to 26 at the Kenton Theatre. Box office: (01491) 575698 or go to www.kentontheatre.co.uk