A Tale To Tell is the latest creation by Ashley Glazebrook and Glen Murphy under their stage name Twist and Pulse. Executive produced by BASE Productions, and written, directed, and produced by Glen with an original script and two songs, it is a pantomime that poses a question: how does one go about putting on a participatory form of theatre without a real-life audience?
Set in a world where fairy-tale characters are not only very real, but are employed in the theatre industry to portray themselves on stage, the traditional characters that we all know and love have generated some online fame – particularly Peter Pan (Aston Merrygold). When pantomime season is cancelled, the company are prompted by two disappointed children to put on their own show. And so, A Tale To Tell is born, utilising a range of classic stories, characters with feel-good songs, and impressive choreography. At times, the line between pantomime and reality blurs together – the culmination of the dramatically comical Wicked Queen’s (Genevieve Nicole) plan outside of the pantomime is mirrored by her plans within the performance.
As the short film continues, it becomes increasingly clear how well its creators understand the conventions and tone of pantomime, nor are they afraid to play with these conventions. Twist and Pulse have a long history in pantomime, having been involved in productions since 2013, and in A Tale To Tell they got the chance to reprise their roles as PC Hip and PC Hop from Aladdin. They utilise as much of the genre as possible, without the traditional direct mode of address to an audience, by including frequent asides and jokes to one another. When pantomime season is officially cancelled, the characters are forced to seek other employment to support themselves: Hook is ironically shown working in a clock shop, and Sleeping Beauty finds work in a mattress store. While amusing in itself, their fate provides a timely counterpart to the treatment of the theatre industry during the pandemic.
The fairy-tale characters become analogous for the star-studded West End cast who portray them – many of whose careers have been severely impacted by the lack of support for the theatre industry during the pandemic. Although the pandemic is not mentioned by name (nobody is wearing masks and it is not cited as the reason for the theatre’s decision to cancel pantomime season) such a piece could only have been envisioned under these circumstances.
With a forty-minute running time, it is substantially shorter than a real pantomime, however it still captures the pantomime spirit which makes the piece ideal for family viewing. Though the genre is aimed at young children, there is certainly enough nostalgia, humour and depth for an older audience.
You can watch A Tale To Tell for free here.
Words by Ibby Bridges.
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