Theatre Review: The Pantaloons’ The Canterbury Tales

Well, well, well, The Pantaloons have done it again.

I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to write this post.  I normally rush to write my reviews of Pantaloons shows but as I mentioned in my last post I’ve just had the most exhausting week and couldn’t string together a sentence, let alone a full, in-depth theatre review.

I think this is my fourth Pantaloons review.  I seriously hope you’re not getting bored reading them.  I’m certainly not getting bored of writing them and I am 100% not getting bored of watching the shows so I think you can expect plenty more reviews like this in the future (#sorrynotsorry).

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As this was a Summer Pantaloons show it was an outdoor performance, which means picnic chairs, snuggly blankets and lots of yummy food!  It’s very liberating to sit, engrossed in a show while stuffing your face full of olives and popcorn!

Now, I have to admit I really didn’t know a lot about The Canterbury Tales before watching the show.  I studied a few of them at school and so was familiar with a few of the stories and Mr Mess gave me a quick run down on the rest, but other than that it was a pretty new experience for me.

The play features a cast of 5 Pantaloons, all taking on a number of different roles. Four of the cast were members I’ve seen before – Edward Ferrow, Kelly Griffiths, Alex Rivers and Neil Jennings and one new face – Stephen Leask. (I hope I’ve got that right – I misplaced my programme and so I had to rely on some serious Twitter detective work to find the right name!)  The cast were, as per usual, fabulous. There’s no possible way I could go into each character in detail as I’d already lost track after the first 15 minutes.  The whole cast are ridiculously versatile.  They act, they play instruments, they sing. They do some brilliantly awful-on-purpose Geordie accents!

The Canterbury Tales are, apparently, recognised for the diversity and range in their styles and genres.  It was therefore appropriate that The Pantaloons should tell each pilgrim’s story using a different style of theatre.  There was mime, puppetry, operetta – it was like watching a multitude of different performances all rolled into one.

At the end of the production, the audience was tasked with choosing their favourite story.  It was practically impossible to choose, and I honestly can’t even remember who I voted for, but if I had to pick, my top 5 would be:

The Man of Law’s Tale – A ridiculously sad and beautiful tale, told using bizarre puppets made out of polystyrene.  I genuinely had a tear in my eye during this one and it features the cutest baby puppet of all time!

The Reeve’s Tale – featuring the afore-mentioned, dreadful Geordie accents, this was a bed-hopping farce that had me rolling with laughter.

The Merchant’s Tale – Another story told by some very strange and lewd puppetry.

The Nun Priest’s Tale – This was particularly note-worthy for the most spectacular chicken impressions I have ever seen in theatre.  (I’m not actually sure I’ve seen other chicken impressions in plays, but if I ever have they weren’t as good as these ones!)

And last, but not least, The Second Nun’s Tale, which told the story of a woman who could not be killed, through the medium of song!

All in all, this was a quintessential Pantaloons performance, with all the fun and frolics I have come to expect when I go to watch them.  I was chuckling throughout, and near crying by the end.  Mr Mess even got to show off his comedic timing as the Wife of Bath’s fifth husband.  That’s the second time he’s been chosen as a potential love interest now – I’ll have to keep my eye on them!

The Pantaloons’ “The Canterbury Tales” will be touring until early September and if you haven’t had the immense pleasure of watching one of their shows before, I would highly recommend you go along to see what all the fuss is about.  They also have two other shows, “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Romeo and Juliet”, touring at the moment, but sadly I’m not able to go and watch.  I am, however, eagerly awaiting the announcement of their Autumn/Winter season.  I’m sure I’ll be booking tickets again.

At the end of the show, a couple of the cast came over to say hello and to GIVE ME A HUG!!! Seriously, I can’t imagine I could be any more excited if I met the Queen herself! Mr Mess did point out to them that they were only fuelling my obsession, but they just laughed and said they loved it.  I’m taking this as informed consent and will be using this blog post as evidence in any future legal proceedings which may be brought up against me.

Seriously though, they do all seem like the nicest, funniest bunch of people and I hope to get to see many, many more performances in the future.  Until then, go along for yourself so you can join me in my fandom!

Thanks for another great show, guys!  See you all again soon!

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