Midsummer 2019 saw a first for Art Plumstead when they presented their own pantomime Jayden and the Beanstalk. Introduced by the world weary narrator in the guise of Dick Whittington’s cat, it told the tale of the dastardly Dick Day and his plans to drive people off the Common so he could build a vast mansion there. To assist him in his plans he had ordered a dragon from the website Wickedpedia (which his friend Dirty Dee Dudwin had told him about) to terrorise the denizens of Plumstead and kill off Ron Rattail, the organiser of the Community Market. However, because he had bought it cheaply it had one fatal weakness. More of that later.
For now, in Scene 2, life in the Community Market continued as usual, with the two long term stall holders (old friends and arch enemies) Sally and Millie selling their wares – bakery and macramé. Being unaware of Dicks fiendish plot they both had a crush on him. There was a certain amount of innuendo which naturally, none of the children understood. Quite a few adults didn’t get all the rudery but they certainly understood it when Sally and Millie raved about how much they liked Dick! The love interest came from the attraction between Dick’s nephew Robin and the new stall holder Jayden of the Uphill Gardeners on Shooters Hill. Much to the two ‘ladies’ chagrin, Ron Rattail had arranged for Robin to provide a musical interlude at the Market instead of their offering and although initially miffed, they soon appreciated the song – as did the audience. They also appreciated the – real – cakes that were distributed as Millie’s ‘new line’ to try out.
Soon, the children were besides themselves with even more glee at the water pistols that appeared in the next scene when Dick demonstrated to Ron how to use them to control fires on the Common as part of his taking over the Common Fire Watch. This scene featured a certain amount of buffoonery with both Dick and Ron squirting each other – and of course the audience, old and young. Then the duplicitous Dick sent Ron to the other side of the Common as per his plan for the dragon to pounce on Ron. Cue plenty of ‘behind you’ as the dragon sneaked up on Ron. Surely all was lost?
Well, no. Earlier, Dick had lent his mobile phone to Jayden to film Robin performing at the Community Market before it was returned to him via Robin. It was still in Robin’s possession when a text message came through from Dirty Dee Dudwin. Encouraged by Jayden he read it and learned of Dick’s vile plot. The second text message that came through moments later gave away the one thing that could destroy the dragon. At once, they fled the scene into the woods on their mission of mercy, together with Millie who had wandered onto the scene picking flowers (much to the chagrin of one little nature boy who had earlier informed the steward that he had been looking for crickets) They emerged just in time to see the dragon preparing to swoop on the hapless Ron who had fallen to the ground. While the dragon relished the moment before falling on his prey, Ron called out ‘kick him up the bum!’ – for this was the dragon’s one fatal weakness – and with one well aimed boot up the bottom, the dragon was slain and Jayden had saved the day. The dastardly Dick was then brought on, ensnared in a piece of Sally’s macramé – so it had been useful, after all! This time, the two dames were allowed to lead the cast and audience in their song, the words for which just happened to be printed in the programme. After which, orderly bow and exeunt cast.
Now, in all the excitement at the market over Dick and encouraging the audience to admit how much they liked Dick as well, Millie and Sally had missed out a bit of entertaining nonsense which was supposed to have happened as part of their ongoing rivalry. Luckily, since the audience had enjoyed themselves so much and didn’t want to go straight home, the routine was duly performed by popular demand as a brief vignette and served as an encore, after which all the cast came on and milked the adulation with freestyle bowing and general showing off. Finally, Art Plumstead’s first ever pantomime was over. After dropping off various props and bits of costume, the cast, crew and hardcore supporters adjourned to The Old Mill for a well-earned refreshment or three.
For those who didn’t make it on the night and wish they could have seen it, click on these links in turn. It’s sheer hokum!