On 15 and 16 February, St Vincent’s Panto Players gave three performances of that well-known traditional pantomime A Tale of Two Cities, at St Vincent’s Church, Crookes, Sheffield. Charles Dickens would surely have been turning in his grave. Indeed the famous author made a few appearances during the show, making clear his displeasure with what the scriptwriters had done to his novel – his ‘Great Expectations’ were severely dashed, and his experience could be described as ‘Hard Times’. However, what does Mr Dickens know about pantomime?!
The script did certainly draw on the original tale, with the action taking place across two cities. It also featured French revolutionaries and aristocrats, and a case of mistaken identity was central to the plot (such as it was!) However, as is usual for St Vincent’s pantomime, the script and cast played fast and loose with the source material. The two cities in question were Sheffield and Paris, rather than London and Paris.
Mayhem ensued, there was a visit to Crookes market, the botanical creatures sang a song, an audience member received the traditional custard pie, and it all ended happily ever after. Some notable appearances included Doctor Who, Chewbacca, and Gregg Wallace from Masterchef (none of whom featured in Mr Dickens’ final manuscript, though we suspect they appeared in earlier drafts). Moreover, the script was “laced” with shoe-related puns, some of which were easier to spot than others.
The ‘Charlie Gardiner Award’ for loyal service to the pantomime, created in honour of a former parish priest, went this year to Matthew Robertson and Amy Robertson.
Just over £1700 was raised this year, which will be split between the St Justin Society (the group in the parish that supports individuals and projects in developing countries) and St Wilfrid’s Centre.