Back to Normality. Aharrr!
There is nothing on Earth like a British Panto. It's a hugely stylised form of theatre: there are traditional elements such as the Dame (a man dressed as a woman), the Principal Boy (a girl dressed as a boy), audience participation - 'he's behind you!' - 'oh yes it is, oh no it isn't' - random kids being dragged up on stage for a spot of humiliation - throwing sweets at the kids - splitting the audience for a singsong - making them boo and hiss at the baddies, making them all go 'aaah'. Pour in a dash of innuendo for the parents, throw in some local jokes, singing and dancing to popular songs related to the show, over-the-top acting, and, DING-DONG! You have a pantomime.
It surprises me that Pantomime really only exists in the UK - for sure there will be amateur groups of Britpats doing pantos in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and even Ras Al Khaimah and other far-flung places. In the Dubai Drama Group we have always had a smattering of non-UK actors wondering what the hell was going on. For several years we had a core of Filipino Chorus-boys who never showed up for any other kind of play but were always mad keen to be in the Panto.
If I ever get asked to compile a list of things that define British Culture, it could not be complete without Pantomime.
So now it's all over - I can throw away my script and not worry about it again: all that remains to be said is "Merry Christmas One And All".