It’s (socially distanced) behind you!

by Gay Pirrie Weir

Theatres fight back against Covid blues

THERE was relief all round for local theatres, concert halls and arts centres when the Government announced we would be in Tier 2 when the lockdown eases on 2nd December.

panto at the octagon theatre

It means that the carefully planned, socially distanced, Covid-secure pantomimes, Christmas shows, concerts and other events can go ahead, with all the relevant protocols and arrangements made. Booking is essential as the venues need to have contact details of all audience members, so don’t just turn up and expect to be admitted. The rule of six will apply, so no big parties. Make sure the venues know how many people are in your group so that seating can be organised.

Many of our local theatres have leapt at the chance of offering seasonal entertainment to their audiences. They can only use 50 per cent of their seating capacity, so there will be high demand for available tickets among those who want to enjoy something of a “normal” Christmas.

Salisbury Playhouse has two shows, Little Robin Redbreast for the younger audiences and Guy Masterson’s inspired solo performance of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. The family show runs at various day times from Monday 7th to Sunday 27th December, and Scrooge takes centre stage in the evening from 15th to 19th December.

Nurse Nellie will be saving the pantomime at Yeovil Octagon, on various dates from Friday 11th December to Sunday 3rd January. The five-strong (bubbled) cast, led by Gordon Cooper, Jack Glanville and Thom Ford, performs Paul Hendy’s new show, which incorporates many of the best-loved moments from the pantomime genre. When a baddie steals the joy of pantomime, will Nurse Nellie and her friends manage to rescue it? Oh yes they will!

Bath Theatre Royal has the hilarious farce The Play that Goes Wrong from Thursday 17th December to Saturday 16th January, just the thing to banish the 2020 winter blues. You might have seen the play, and others from the successful company, on television. It is MUCH funnier to see it in the flesh.

On the more serious side there is David Mamet’s Oleanna from 3rd to 22nd December, and then from 4th to 16th January. Starring Jonathan Slinger and Rosie Sheehy, this brilliant 1992 play is the uncomfortable dissection of a claim by a student that her tutor has sexually harassed her, and the effects her claim has on both their lives.

Chris Jarvis has written the Poole Lighthouse pantomime, Happy Ever After, and he and his friends will perform it between 18th December and 3rd January.

There are four live shows at Bournemouth Pavilion – but no pantomime. Fans will be delighted that Paul Jones and the Blues Band will be back at Wimborne Tivoli on 12th December, as well as a Covid version of Jack and the Beanstalk from 18th December to 3rd January, also at the Tiv.

Congratulations to all those theatres that persevered with productions in the knowledge that their efforts might be scuppered by the rules. Let’s support them if we can, and look forward to a post-vaccine 2021 Christmas with Covid “Behind You”

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