Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Festive Finale, the Devonshire Park Theatre Way

Officially the Christmas festivities finished on Wednesday 6th Jan, also known as Twelfth Night, when decorations should have been down and mince pies eaten up ready for the obligatory New Year dieting regime - but I managed to stretch it out one more day by going to see a pantomime on Thursday 7th. Tacky, garish and predictable, pantomime is a great British tradition widely loved (including by me) for exactly those reasons. Anyone who grew up in this country and got taken to pantomime as a child will be pre-programmed with all the necessary responses - "he's behind you", "oh no it isn't", "boo, hiss" etc - to be able to participate without thinking. It's a shared experience, comforting in its familiarity.

For those of us on the inside, there is another great tradition that accompanies the pantomime season and that is the crew Cod panto - where the backstage team get dressed up and mercilessly (but fondly) mock the show for the enjoyment of its actors. Having worked for Eastbourne Theatres for many years back in my teens and early twenties, I am lucky enough to get an invite to see the Devonshire Park's annual Cod - this year 'Jack and His Big Stalk' which took place after the public show last Thursday. Quite apart from the enjoyment of seeing old friends donning drag and prancing about camply, the Cod was genuinely amusing by virtue of its sharply side-splitting script - written by the DP's resident Stage Manager (and my dear friend), Paul Debreczeny. You can catch a few highlights in this little YouTube video of mine.

The Turns and Twirlies (aka actors and dancers) took the ridicule in good part and actually seemed quite impressed at the previously hidden talents of their behind-the-scenes colleagues. My own dear mum (who works on the stage door) even bagged herself a cameo, showing off her theatrical pedigree - which was again something of a revelation to many of the assembled. What with the added bonus of free-flowing wine throughout the show and catching up with old friends afterwards during a lock-in at the Buccaneer pub next door, it was a very jolly way to round off the seasonal festivities. And a stack of cash was also raised for the Sussex Air Ambulance charity in the process. Good work, chaps.


  1. Thanks for the write up, however I'm sorry to disappoint you. The drink in the Buccaneer afterwards was not a lock-in. They have a licence until 2am but only use it on special occasions such as this :-)

  2. Oh my, allow a girl a bit of dramatic license, dammit!


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