Adult Panto goes to Valletta using the story of Sin-ders to remind us what really has been turned to cinders

Spazju Kreattiv

This year was the first time I managed to go to Steve Hili’s Adult Panto in Summer – currently in its sixth edition and this year running at Spazju Kreattiv in its first change of venue.

Dubbed Sinderella, the title says it all. It felt surreal: like entering the mind of a very desperate 14-year-old schoolboy, and seeing it trying to handle the information overload of sexual content that he gained off the internet because his school did not have decent sex-Ed lessons.

I suppose the 18+ rating the show chooses to give itself as a means of extra publicity should say it all, but the explicitness of the script is not as shocking as it is ridiculous. I would describe this production as a celebration of the sexually ridiculous.

The audience I’m assuming, goes there specifically for this: the unashamedly explicit and deliberately gratuitous. The toilet humour is crude and the subtleties of innuendo are lost, as every rude word you learnt on the school playground from your equally eager and inept classmates, is aired out with as much enthusiasm at this production, as it was when you were still a teenager revelling in your new-found understanding of sex.

They certainly brought to mind the dirty rhymes and smutty descriptions of every proclivity under the sun which were discussed on the playground. Again, this is what was expected by the audience: the permission to laugh at incredibly awkward, NSFW jokes and comments which would have gained you a sharp slap from your horrified nanna.

This panto is more message than plot

The plot was self-deprecatingly thin and the audience participation actually quite funny. What impressed me were the strong environmental jibes and the political jokes, which were genuinely pretty spot on. I wasn’t too keen on Steve Hili literally popping in and out of a mankini, but then again, who would be?

James Ryder has carved a niche in panto as a narrator/goofy sidekick and gave his role its usual take – steady and well-paced with the dry wit and facial expressions to go with it. Malcolm Galea plays the dame with his usual panache for comedy, adding a rather filthy twist with Hili’s script and directions. Naomi Knight gives a deliberately dumbed down Sinders whose main aim is not to marry a prince, but to convince the king that he has to do more to ‘save the trees’.

In the process of going to speak to King Ingib (Rambert Attard), she meets his son, the virgin Prince Mark (Kim Dalli) and falls in love thanks to the love potion which evil construction magnate Abil (this guy’s name is like Dnegel, played by the inimitable Joseph Zammit) gives the prince to force him to fall in love with an inflatable doll. Attard, like Ryder took on his goofball persona for panto, while Zammit went for controlled comedy with shades of Disney villain. For an added touch of sexiness and ironically, quirky class, Maltese Burlesque artist, Undine La Verve plays the Magical Sprite who replaces her Fairy Godmother.

This panto is more message than plot and includes a considerable amount of audience participation: which the non-participants thoroughly enjoy. If you’re looking for easy, very light entertainment and rather sleazy fun, then this show’s for you.

But don’t underestimate the cutting social and political commentary which Hili manages to pack in there. Perhaps more bigwigs should see this show specifically for this reason, for the rest, I’m sure they don’t need Hili’s cues for shock-tactics, outrageousness or the downright ridiculous.

Sinderella is being staged at Spazju Kreattiv today and tomorrow and on June 28, 29 and 30 at 8pm.

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