By Deri Parsons

After the Covid-induced hiatus of three years, the Stoke Climsland Amateur Theatrical Society (SCATS) returned with a pantomime showcasing their talents and showing that they had not lost their touch.

Would you review the panto, they asked so off I went with a notepad, ready to make copious notes as the performance progressed. The idea being that when I got back home, it would simply be a matter of putting the finishing touches on what I’ve already jotted down. But this didn’t work. From the outset, I was so drawn into the story and the performances that my pen and pad were redundant, and I simply enjoyed British Pantomime at its very best. It had everything you would expect - puns, double entendres, innuendo, music, action, flatulence and playful references to local characters and places, pop songs and current events.

The imaginative plot for The Sword in the Scone took us back to the days of Arthurian legend, Merlin’s magic and jousting knights (and days). The quest for King Uther Penpasty’s successor as King of Cornwall was contested by the wicked Bodmina La Moor. The writers’ left no scone unturned as Bodmina’s dastardly deeds developed. Carrots in pasties? Cream before jam? Made to visit Devon? Luckily, these horrors were averted and, after various twists and turns in the plot, it all came out alright in the end as love conquered all. Arthur did inherit his father’s title after he successfully drew the sword from the scone, but not before it was turned up the right way. Jam first at all times, the only way, the proper way, the Cornish way.

Once again, a delightful evening was had by all. It would be invidious to single out any particular cast (or back-stage) member for specific praise: they are all to be congratulated for providing a superb evening’s entertainment. But I will mention the duo of Lady Migraine and the Lady of Gunnislake who stepped into their parts at very short notice and made the parts their own. Incidentally, is there any other group in the village that has such a wide age range in its members? It was great to see the youngsters working on equal terms with the more seasoned performers to come up with a true ensemble performance. Well done, SCATS, you are back on top form. You’ll have difficulty keeping this standard up - but we say this after every performance and you always prove us wrong!

I overheard some audience members on the way out grumbling about having paid good money to see the “professional” pantomime on the big Plymouth stage when they got everything that production delivered and a lot more besides in their local Parish Hall. If you’ve not seen a SCATS pantomime, you really should – the experience of the company and the hard work that goes into every production really shines through.

I’ll leave the final words to some Ukrainian guests who were experiencing a British pantomime for the very first time. What did they make of it? “It was fabulous. The level of acting, performance, audio, lights, and special effects - all went very professionally, at the highest level. I don’t know who wrote the scenario, but it’s a masterpiece. I’m still passing the joke about KFC to all my friends from Kyiv, and we still keep laughing at it”. And the joke?

Sir Orlov: I am Orlov the Knight, from Kyiv in Ukraine. I joust for KFC.

King Arthur: Aaah, Kyiv, like the chicken.

Sir Orlov: No, not like the chicken. KFC is ‘Kyiv Fellowship of Champions.