"No unaccompanied adults allowed," declares the press release. Pity: Arts Threshold's Christmas show for younger punters is a fine alternative both to traditional panto and to the sniggering self-conscious "adult" variety. That's not to say it sells children short: there's none of the condescension or vain attempts to recall what it was like as a kid that mar so many children's shows from non-dedicated companies. There's a green message, as the forest folk foil wicked witch Chlora-Flora (a merrily nasty Maureen Glackin)'s plans to despoil the area with her smog-breathing monster Pollutio; the company work well with a young audience, both onstage and off (face-painting and a monster-drawing competition); and enough glitz, action and fun to keep the attention.
The fact is, though (and whisper it softly), that youngsters may not get all from this exuberant production that their big brothers and sisters will. The company's verve and humour aren't knowing or camp, but they're rooted in their own age group. They're having fun, and they show it with such infectious glee that they carry us along too. Volunteer for a stint of babysitting this season so you have an excuse to see this show. Or just borrow a kid...
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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