THEATER REVIEW: The PantoLoons’ “The Little Mermaid: Beyond the Sea” [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Gail M. Burns
Ah, where are the Pantos of yesteryear? In this, their 18th season, there are only two active original members of the PantoLoons, and while the young performers who have come on board in recent years are fabulous, they have lost track of exactly what they are about.
A British Panto is a very specific form of theater, and the PantoLoons were founded by a Brit – Judy Staber – who until very recently got playwright’s billing on the shows, even though they were, and still remain, a collaborative effort amongst the Loons. Staber’s oversight ensured that the joie de vivre and lunacy that is a British Panto remained intact in this Americanized version.
That is not to say that this year’s Panto – The Little Mermaid: Beyond the Sea, running through Sunday (December 10) at the Ghent Playhouse – isn’t great good fun, but it hews too close to the plot of the Disney film and doesn’t take some very obvious liberties that would have moved it from spoof to true Panto. In these days of “Fake News” and burgeoning accusations of sexual assault by powerful men there is much political satire to be mined from the story of a woman who loses her voice.
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