For an uplifting evening of entertainment, look no further than PantSoc’s unique take on Arthurian legend in ‘Knights of the Round Table’, written by Dominic Gill. The well-written exposition delivered by the narrator (Katherine Oddy) perfectly sets up the plot; this is certainly no normal retelling.
After a brief view into the villain, Morgana La Fay’s scheme, brought to life by Effy Hale, there is a classic pantomime opening number with a vast selection of characters filling the stage, with a cast of over 50 involved this comes as no surprise. Despite a few opening night jitters and uncertainty in the movements, dances were on the whole very effective and well executed. Isobel Anderson’s choreography was simple, yet extremely effective and fit well with the pantomime aesthetic, featuring striking formations with impressive results.
As the show progresses, the plot unfolds as we follow the Squire Galahad as he struggles to find his own identity and complete his quest. Jessy Roberts portrayed the role beautifully in her PantSoc debut, creating a relatable and lovable character with many comical moments. Alongside Roberts, an outstanding and energetic performance was given by Amy Pezet in her role as Sir Kayla, with great physicalisation causing the audience to laugh multiple times throughout the show. Special shoutouts for excellent performances also have to go to Mikey Collinson, Kendra Rabbitts and Jon Derrick for their memorable and hilarious cameo roles.
Despite the hideous overuse of innuendo and obscene gesture, perhaps a little too reliant on the puerile mindset of university students, there were also many well received University of York references throughout the show which caused the audience to react with laughter and gasps respectively. Many classic features of pantomime are also featured, capitalising a lot on the use of terrible jokes and recurring puns, mixed in with boo’s and shouts of ‘he’s behind you’, appealing to the traditionalist in us all. Alongside these classic traits of pantomime are some of the nuances of PantSoc itself, classic dance moves, a pantomime bush and the appearance of Dr Horse the pantomime horse himself, which added to the classic nature of the show with the society making a name for itself.
‘Amongst the consistently interesting and dynamic background acting of the chorus members, there is always something to keep you entertained’
Unfortunately there are moments in the second act that seem to lose pace, as well as some key lines being lost, but amongst the consistently interesting and dynamic background acting of the chorus members, there is always something to keep you entertained, even in the interval! This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Arthur, where the portrayal of Arthur, Jacob Seldon, is far from the generic image we have of King Arthur. However this childlike version is very entertaining and excellent energy is maintained throughout the show creating a very comical character. In a bold move, his wife Guinevere was the dame of the show, played by Alex McLintock. Whilst McLintock’s dame was one of the best characters in the show; the decision to have this character as the dame seems to be an attempt to shoehorn another pantomimic trait into the show rather than being a classic pantomime favourite.
One of the best features brought about by the production team is the costuming, excellently brought together by Abi Thornton, with one of the best dame costumes ever seen and very clear and creative costumes for the whole ensemble providing a visual unity of the whole cast. Another mention must go to David Charter for his outstanding work as Musical Director, with every song lyric known by heart and clearly heard throughout the show. Congratulations to the talented directors Kirsty Edwards and Henry Longstaff who used the challenging space in Central Hall well and to the producers Bethany Dimond and Katie Houston for putting this show together.
Knights of the Round Table is performing at Central Hall in the University of York (Heslington West) this Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm. Tickets available on the door.