Wednesday, December 2

Stay Holmes – The Pantaloons Go Online

When an outdoor theatre company celebrated for helping themselves to their audience’s picnics are forced to go online to perform it’s natural to worry about them, and not just that they may be going hungry. But never fear, when The Pantaloons are here then, as with this show, it is simply elementary: you are in for a great night.

Following a brief stay in the Zoom waiting room to the lovely accompaniment of solo violin from Fiona McGarvey, we were launched in true Pantaloons fashion into seventy-five minutes of high jinks and madcap entertainment that was kindly followed by a Q&A with writer and chief Pantaloon Mark Heyward and tonight’s outstanding cast of Edward Ferrow, Kelly Griffiths, Alex Rivers, and Christopher Smart.

Dynamic duo Holmes and Watson are well and truly put through their paces as they tackle the challenge of The Speckled Band, a case so fiendish that they are forced to go back in time to earlier crimes to help unravel clues left from past cases with the assistance of the audience as Holmes eventually has to come to terms with his most feared opponent ever.

No Pantaloons production can go without a glitch – we shan’t mention the Sheffield fox – and for many of us much of the fun of an evening with them is how they incorporate unforeseen challenges into a show. With four performers spread equally across two houses, it would have been easy to play scenes out in each location but that’s not their style and with director Heyward further remote again, they threw themselves at the challenge in true Pantaloons style and it was a delight to watch scenes and characters interchanging and props successfully thrown through the ethernet to land safely on the other side.

The Pantaloons pride themselves on using different media and tonight was no exception as we were treated to a mix of high tech and homespun, with the superior skill of the performers seeing them deliver the perfect homage with Heyward’s most excellent script and combined with great ad-libbing, it was clear that we, the audience, were not the only ones having great fun.

The recent news that lockdown is easing and outdoor theatre is allowed to recommence has seen The Pantaloons working hard to cement their remaining schedule of venues and discovering new ones to plug some gaps to get their summer tour back on the road which will include the fuller version of Sherlock Holmes as well as Twelfth Night. Check out https://thepantaloons.co.uk/ for details. There will be at least one further performance of Stay Holmes on 17th July 2020 so snap up your virtual tickets for that while you can.

If for some reason you can’t make a show then check out their YouTube channel here The Pantaloons YouTube where there is an array of online content from Pantaloons old and new – once a Pantaloon, always a Pantaloon. Apparently the Orange one is quite popular…

And the icing on the cake was Alex Rivers confirming – no pressure – that the crowd-funded radio play of Bleak House will also be with us shortly too – we’re going to be spoilt for choice!

I’ve watched and reviewed a lot of theatre during lockdown that has been unfortunately hampered by its living room setting. The Pantaloons bravely although not surprisingly took that and turned it on its head and for that alone tonight was a success; throw in the perfect Pantaloons play on words and puns and it was my lockdown highlight. No summer is complete without them so fingers crossed I will get along to one of their tour shows.

Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 10th July 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

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