Costume crisis calls for radical panto rethink
With the Ambridge Christmas production of Mother Goose only a week away, costume designer Kate Madikane has thrown rehearsals into chaos again with a bid to stage a modern-dress version of Oklahoma! instead.
‘Lynda Snell’s creative vision and mine are completely incompatible,’ said Ms Madikane. ‘I’d done all these beautiful drawings for costumes, and she actually wanted me to make them into garments. Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous?
‘So my suggestion is we scrap Mother Goose – which was totally contrary to my vegan ethos anyway – and put on a story about real farmers.
‘All my family are dying to be in it. My dad Brian already knows all the words. You can’t stop him singing ‘We all belong to the land, and the land we belong to is grand’ – with David Archer on backing vocals. My brother Adam would do a great version of ‘I cain’t say no’ and my sister Debbie, who’s coming home for Christmas, could play Will Parker, who’s just come back from the big city, as a principal boy. She loves a bit of thigh-slapping.
‘And best of all they can all wear their own clothes. I don’t mind gluing on a few bits of straw for extra effect. It’s such a great idea, I’m going to pour myself another large Rioja to celebrate.’
‘Mince pie-gate’ sours festive get-together
The Ambridge Women’s Institute annual ‘Festive Nibbles’ event had to be abandoned this week as members nearly came to blows over mince pies.
‘There were ugly scenes,’ said one member, who preferred not to be named for fear of reprisals. ‘Everyone is supposed to bake their own mince pies for the blind tasting. We all suspect that Sabrina Thwaite uses frozen pastry, but really, with that manicure, you can hardly expect her to do her own rubbing-in.
‘But this year, a couple of new members from Grange Spinney brought shop-bought pies. They didn’t even bother trying to hide the packets! It was shameless. And when the visiting lady judge actually chose one of the ready-made pies as her ‘nicest nibble’, a couple of committee members fainted and the hot-headed younger set had to be restrained to prevent a scuffle breaking out.’
A spokesperson for Borsetshire WI said the incident had been ‘blown up out of all proportion’. ‘Occasionally there are slight misunderstandings when new members aren’t aware of the rules, and that’s what happened here,’ she said. ‘It was easily resolved by giving the prize to Ruth Archer of Brookfield. Her mince pies were so revolting that they could never be mistaken for the work of a professional baker. Well done Ruth!’
Novel Nativity tackles contemporary issues
The congregation of St Stephen’s enjoyed a ‘Nativity with a twist’ this week as the Revd Alan Franks introduced a daring modern element to the traditional story.
‘Last year we focused on the plight of the homeless, as the Grundys re-enacted the journey of the Holy Family, with Bartleby looking on as they settled down for Christmas in the cider shed,’ said the Revd Franks. ‘This year, I’ve been inspired by my deep spiritual conversations with a parishioner to draw attention to the sadness of the broken family.
‘In our Nativity, cruel Judge Loomis sends out a decree across all the land, that rapists and abusers shall have no contact with their children on Christmas Day – or at any other time except under strict supervision.
‘But our new character, the Unwise Man, longs to give gifts to his estranged sons, so he hangs about the church, hiding behind pillars, frightening the younger angels, clutching a plastic bag of cheap presents and crying so noisily you can hear him above ‘Away in a manger’.
‘However, the congregation turn their backs on the Unwise Man and shepherd the children away from him, leaving him to spend Christmas alone in his apartment on the Edgeley Road, with a frozen turkey dinner and a box set of Game of Thrones. It is truly a Nativity for our times, although to be honest Bishop Nick had his doubts.’
Items for sale
• Four tickets to ‘Puss in Boots’ at the Felpersham Coliseum, with that bloke from EastEnders in it, for Wednesday December 21. Includes a two-course meal at the Torn Scrotum. £100 needed to pay urgent vet’s bill. Contact: Emma Gruny, Grange Farm.
• Glow-in-the-dark ‘Santa stop here’ sign. Not needed as Santa will not be stopping here this Christmas, what with the rent due in the New Year. £20. Contact: Emma Grundy, Grange Farm.
• Designer dresses: one fuchsia and one buttercup (with very faint stain, you’d hardly notice). No longer needed as my husband Neil prefers me in the red velvet I wore for my 50th. Honestly, men. What are they like? Contact: Susan Carter, Ambridge View
At home with… Pip Archer
This week we pop in for coffee at Rickyard Cottage with Pip Archer, who’s looking forward to spending a first Christmas in her cosy home with entrepreneur boyfriend Toby Fairbrother…
So, Pip – how will you and Toby be spending the big day?
Well, it will be nothing like Christmas Day at Brookfield! We won’t be lolling around in our pyjamas opening presents. No pyjamas – and no presents either! Toby needs all his cash for investing in his business, and I’ve given him all my money so I can’t buy him anything. But love is all you need at Christmas, isn’t it?
What about lunch?
At Brookfield we do the turkey, and the roast beef, and the ham, and all Gran’s lovely baking – but who needs that stuff? Toby can’t face poultry after slaughtering all those geese anyway. And we’ll be drinking champagne all day – Toby’s got this great recipe, he’s going to make some – so I don’t suppose we’ll feel much like cooking. I think the Thai takeaway on the bypass is open on Christmas day? Isn’t it? Oh…
And you’ve been so busy you haven’t had time to put the decorations up yet?
Well, all the decorations are at Brookfield; mum still puts all the stupid little angels on the tree that we made when we were little. And Gran knits a whole new Nativity scene every year. But Toby says that’s just dullsville. He’s going to bring some mistletoe that he and Eddie picked in Brookfield and have been selling in the market – and he says he can let me have it half-price! Isn’t that thoughtful? Typical Toby…
Oh dear. Thin stuff. Wish we’d gone for Justin Elliott instead. Ed.