PANTOMIMES could be cancelled in theatres this Christmas unless assurances are given soon that live performances – currently banned because of coronavirus – can go ahead.
However, in case the curtain does stay down, the Government is producing The People’s Panto, to be screened on TV over the festive season and raise Britain’s pandemic-battered morale.
The cast will be made up of politicians from all parties who will put aside their differences to play traditional panto characters. An early draft of the script has been leaked . . .
Scene: The Great Hall of Lockdown Castle. Baron and Baroness Hardup are with their two ugly daughters and their maidservant Cinderella.
Baroness Hardup (Carrie Symonds): ‘Pray, husband, what ails you? You haven’t touched your flagon of ethically-sourced, carbon-neutral, rainforest-certified hot infusion.’
Baron Hardup (Boris Johnson): ‘Alas, wife! My assets are being squeezed.’
Baroness Hardup: ‘Just lean forward dear, and I’ll loosen your corsets.’
Baron Hardup: ‘No wife, you misunderstand. My coffers have been emptied by giving alms to the peasants during the recent Great Pestilence.’
The Ugly Sisters (Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings): ‘Well, father, we warned you it’d cost an alm and a leg! Alm and a leg – geddit? (boos from audience) Oh, suit yourselves!’
Enter Widow Twankey the washerwoman, with her son Wishee-Washee.
Widow Twankey (Keir Starmer): ‘Here’s your laundry, your Baronship. I’ve managed to darn your doublet, but your hose has gone all floppy and your codpiece needs some starch in it.’
Wishee-Washee (Matt Hancock): ‘Too much information!’
Enter Robin Hood on his noble pantomime horse.
Robin Hood (Rishi Sunak): ‘Baron Hardup, I hear you’re on your uppers, so I’ve come to you with a rescue plan.’
The Ugly Sisters: ‘Phwoar! Robin’s a bit of a looker! Have you seen the size of his quiver! I wouldn’t mind being an arrow if he was my beau! Beau . . . bow, geddit? (boos, groans and catcalls from the audience). Oh, never mind!’
Baron Hardup: ‘But Robin, where are your merry men? I suppose they’re in Sherwood Forest?’
Audience: ‘Oh no they’re not!’
Robin Hood: ‘No, the lazy varlets furloughed themselves and went on a drinking spree when they heard the taverns had reopened.’
Wishee-Washee: ‘They’ll be merrier than ever now!’
Robin Hood: ‘Button it, squirt! Anyhow, Baron, here’s my plan for sorting your money problems . . . ’
Enter Snow White.
Snow White (Emily Thornberry): ‘Fie! Don’t listen to him, Baron! We can dig out all the gold you need from our mines. Isn’t that right, Chief Dwarf? Where’s my Chief Dwarf?’
Audience: ‘He’s behind you!’
Snow White: ‘Oh yes, he’s so small you can easily miss him. Now dwarf, are we ready to dig gold for the Baron?’
Chief Dwarf (John Bercow): ‘Hi-ho mistress, whatever you order, order!’
Enter Ali Baba.
Ali Baba (Ed Miliband): ‘Baron, I can get you riches from a secret treasure-filled cave I know of . . . er, if I can just remember the password to open the door.’
Snow White: ‘Oh yeah? Open, says you?’
Ali Baba: ‘Yeah, open, says me. Now, where did I leave that bit of paper I wrote the password on?’
Enter Jack and the Beanstalk.
Jack (Nicola Sturgeon): ‘Och, Baron, I can get you gold by climbing up yon beanstalk and slaying yon beastie of a giant in his castle.’
The Beanstalk (Jacob Rees-Mogg): ‘Just watch those crampons, Jack – they’re rather sharp.’
Enter Prince Charming.
Prince Charming (Dominic Grieve): ‘Sorry to interrupt, Baron. I found this pair of kitten-heel shoes after the ball last night and want to marry whomever they belong to.’
Cinderella (Theresa May): ‘Well, since you ask . . . ’
Baroness: ‘Do stop interrupting, wench! Why Sir, I believe they are Louboutins, from Paris.’
Prince Charming: ‘Then off to Paris I go to find my fair lady Louboutin . . . goodbye!’
Cinderella: ‘But . . . but . . . hang on . . !’
Baron Hardup: ‘Right! Everyone but Robin Hood clear out! Now, Robin, what’s this plan of yours to fix my finances? Are you going to rob the rich?’
Robin Hood: ‘No, Baron – been there, done that. I’m just going to go back to Sherwood Forest and shake the Magic Money Tree.’
Baron Hardup: ‘The Magic Money Tree! Of course! Get shaking, Robin!’
Robin mounts his horse.
Front of Pantomime Horse (Jeremy Corbyn): ‘Here we go again, galloping along the road to ruin. We need a socialist peasants’ revolt.’
Back of Pantomime Horse (John McDonnell): ‘Oh do shut up, Jezza. That’s what lost us the election – you making up policy on the hoof.’
Robin digs his spurs in.
Pantomime Horse: ‘Ouch!’
Robin Hood: ‘Onward to the Money Tree!’