(by Hairy Photographer)

The scenery was nicely painted.

Hey… maybe I should quit now while I’m ahead. End on a positive note, as it were? Just go to bed.

But I can’t. The sound of Theatr Clwyd’s Rock ‘n Roll Panto is still ringing grating in my head.

They tried their best.

Well actually… No. They didn’t.

It was as if they had given up.  Just going through the motions.  It was as if they’d resigned themselves to the fact it might have been a half decent production if only the musical director had been a little bit musical and the sound engineer knew how to engineer sound. It was as if they thought ‘what the hell, it’s panto – you can get away with murder’

No!  Come on you people!  This was the annual Rock ‘n Roll Panto.  And we were looking forward to it!

It’s not that they were ‘bad’ singers.  Just that they were not that good.  Actually… there were some bad singers:  Robin Hood…  Meatloaf you ain’t!

It’s not that they were ‘bad’ musicians.  They were… erm… reasonably competent musicians.  Individually.  But that was it!  They stood on stage, eyes fixed upon their fretting hand, playing their guitars.  They were not… ‘together‘.  There was no hint of the passion that is a prerequisite of performing Rock and Roll.

It was messy.  They just didn’t gel.

The sound really was awful.  There was no ‘wall of sound’ – just several bricks that happened to emanating sound.  At the same time.  Almost.

Their only saving grace was the finale.  Had these boys and girls put as much energy and enthusiasm into the whole show, much of the rest of their failings may well have been forgiven.

During the speaking parts they where not amplified at all (even though some were wearing cheek mics).  Did I say speaking parts?  I meant shouting parts.

And the singing… Well what can I say?  When someone has a screechy piercing voice, max treble and no bass is not the way to ‘EQ’.

Choreography?  What choreography? I’ve seen more synchronicity in a primary school play!

Even the writers got it wrong.  This script didn’t know whether its audience was under ten or over twenty (let’s face it ‘teenagers’ wouldn’t be seen dead at a pantomime anyway!)  So the writers erred on the side of safety – and got it all wrong.  A Rock ‘n Roll Panto should have a mix of slapstick and innuendo.  By innuendo, I mean the sort of double entendre that can go straight over the heads of the adults whilst the youngsters get the (dirty) joke.  And yes – I did phrase that the right way around! ;-)

Was it funny?  Not really.

“We’ve got the latest games” …he places a cardboard box on the floor and stamps on it… “It’s an X-Box” If I tell you that was the second funniest line of the whole show you get my meaning.  The funniest line was when he then placed one foot on the flattened cardboard, spun around and declared: “It’s an X-Box 360?.

Yes,  I visibly cringed.

Since returning home I found myself thinking: “Is it me?  Have I set too high a standard after watching last week’s excellent Rock ‘n Roll Panto at the Everyman?  Is it because I have seen so many top notch comedies and musicals in Liverpool during the course of 2009?

Sadly, the answer is no.  The previous three Theatr Clwyd R&R Pantos were excellent, completely overshadowing tonight’s meagre offering.  Even sadder is the fact it was produced by much the same team.

So you will not be surprised that I cannot bring myself to recommend it or even suggest you give it the benefit of the doubt.

3/10 .

Must do better next year.