Snell reveals exclusive pantomime previews
With rehearsals under way for Mother Goose, producer Lynda Snell has released some exclusive extracts of the pantomime in advance. ‘Tasting sessions seem to be all the rage this season,’ she said. ‘Eddie and Joe Grundy are inviting people to try their Borsetshire Beauty single-variety cider, and Toby Fairbrother is being generous with free samples of his gin – which he’s naming Scruff, isn’t that lovely?
‘So I thought, why not have a taster session of the pantomime? I wrote it, and it’s all in rhyme!’ (Oh God, I hope it’s better than that. Ed.)
Act 1 Scene 4
Colin (Tom Archer) meets Colinette (Kirsty Miller) in the orchard.
Colin: Oh Colinette you are so fair,
I bet that you would never dare
To leave your pa and marry me!
Colinette: ‘Not likely, sunshine; once before
You jilted me at the church’s door
And never will I love you more.
(That night after the trial didn’t count.)
Act 1 Scene 6
Queen Eleonora of Gooseland (Susan Carter) tries on a new gown.
Eleonora: Mirror, mirror, tell me, pray
Does this dress have too much décolleté?
If so, there is no help I fear
But to stick stars on like we did last year…
Act 2 Scene 3
The Good Fairy (Lilian Bellamy) is helping the Demon Squire (Justin Elliott) with his accounts
Good Fairy: Sire, please tell your servant Rob
To go away and shut his gob
For he has learned of our affair
And I fear will lay our secret bare!
Demon Squire: Fairy dearest, do not fret
I’ll have the better of him yet.
Or we both risk a sharp back-hander
From my not-so-understanding wife, Miranda.
Act 2 Scene 4
Comedy Bailiff 1 (Eddie Grundy) is at home with Comedy Bailiff Wife (Clarrie Grundy)
Comedy Bailiff 1: The proudest moment of my life
Was to bring you home as my dear wife.
Thirty five years have gone so fast –
To think your dad said it wouldn’t last!
Comedy Bailiff Wife: ‘Yes, dearest, it was such a treat
For you to whisk me off my feet
And take me to Barmouth in the van.
You can still surprise me, you lovely man!’
Act 2 Scene 5
The Squire’s Man (Rob Titchener) visits the Holy Friar (Alan Franks)
Squire’s Man: Now look here, my friendly Friar
My wife’s made me out to be a liar!
The doctor’s report says I’m to blame –
Women and Archers – they’re all the same!
Holy Friar: I would advise, try to forgive,
Change your ways, live and let live –
Squire’s Man: Enough with all your platitudes!
I’m sick of Ambridge attitudes!
You’re all against me, that is plain –
But I’ll get my boys back again! Mwah ha ha ha ha!
*Squire’s Man disappears through the floor in a puff of sulphurous smoke.
That’s enough pantomime extracts. Ed.
WINTER FICTION SPECIAL
The Trials of Pip Archer
In the latest chapter of our romantic saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine is forced to choose between family ties and a wild passion over which she has no control…
Pip looked out of the kitchen window, her arms up to the elbows in suds. Toby was such a mucky pup, getting botanical stains all over his jeans. But looking after her man was easy when he was so good to her. Like when he took that £20 note out of her wallet to buy gin supplies. Didn’t he give her back the change and say ‘Buy yourself something pretty, toots!’? If only her father and grandmother could see how lovely he was! But there was Jill in Brookfield’s kitchen, stirring the Christmas pudding with Josh and waving her wooden spoon crossly at Pip across the yard. ‘I’m beyond all that childish stuff now,’ Pip told herself.
Toby was calling her, with that wicked twinkle in his voice. ‘Hey, gorgeous! Something’s come up and it needs your attention right now!’ Giggling, Pip dried her hands and headed for the bedroom…
‘I’m telling you Pip, it’s no go!’ Adam’s anguished face was wet with the rain that was lashing down on the pasture. Even the cows seemed to catch his mood, chomping listlessly on the sodden grass. ‘But what do you mean, Adam? We’ve spent so much time and money on the mob grazing and the herbal leys!’
‘I know, Pip!’ Adam yelled over the gale. ‘We’re pioneering here, trying a viable alternative to the unsustainable high-input arable methods that underpin the current system, keeping management costs low and enriching the soil while improving measurable outcomes such as healthy stock growth!’
‘That’s easy for you to say!’ Pip was beside herself. ‘But it’s Brian we need to convince. Why won’t he listen?’ Adam spat back at her. ‘Because he doesn’t want to be an airy-fairy half-baked woolly guinea pig. Can you believe it? Face it, kid. We were out there, changing the world, for a moment. But it’s over.’
Watching him roar back down the field on his quad bike, Pip got out her phone and called Toby. Now, more than ever, she needed the love and support of her chosen life-partner. ‘Hey there, it’s Tobes – I’m out having far more fun than you are! But leave a message if you owe me money…’ Pip rang off without speaking. Tears mixing with the rain on her face, she began shifting the electric fence…
‘See Pip? Dr Fairbrother always knows what works!’ She could just hear Toby above the noise of the bar, but smiled to hear the warmth in his voice. No wonder he didn’t answer earlier; he was out marketing Ambridge Aerial Films to a group of art students, and then visiting some small local distilleries! Why couldn’t her family see this side of him – the hard-working, diligent Toby she loved? ‘Tell you what babe,’ he purred. ‘I’ll order a Thai now then you can pay when they deliver it, OK gorgeous? No, not you Annabel! Sorry about that Pip, gotta go!’
Later that evening, when Toby finally got home, Pip warmed up his Tom Kha Gai and they had curled up on the sofa to watch one of his favourite action movies, when suddenly there was a hammering at the door. ‘Pip. Pip!! Open up!’ ‘Dad!’ she cried, letting him in. ‘What’s wrong? Has Gran lost her special mixing bowl again?’ But he wasn’t listening, his eyes wild, fists flailing as he pushed past her. ‘Did you really think I wouldn’t find out, you low-life waste of space?’ he roared at Toby. ‘Thinking you could set up a still and sell gin in my brother’s pub? How stupid are you?’
‘But Dad, it’s not what you think – we’re going to get a licence!’ Pip pleaded with her furious parent. ‘Yeah, cool your jets, daddio – we’re going legit once we’ve had a few more tastings,’ said Toby, smiling. ‘Sit down, try some Toby Gin!’
David’s contorted face, already red, turned a frightening shade of purple. ‘All I’m saying is Pip, you get rid of that still or I give you notice to quit Rickyard. Simple as that.’ He turned on his heel and left the cottage, slamming the door. ‘Blimey!’ Toby said. ‘Don’t worry babe; he’ll be fine. Look – the best bit’s coming up.’ He sat down and patted the sofa next to him. But Pip remained standing, looking out towards Brookfield. The freezing wind David had let into the cottage made her shiver…
To be continued…