Robinson Crusoe & The Pirates

Traditional family pantomime given a lively, fresh approach.
The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, Wed November 28th - Sat December 1st 2007

November 26, 2007
The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, until December 1

Banbury Cross Players are celebrating Christmas already with a gorgeous, garish, and hilarious old-fashioned pantomime that whirled me back to my childhood and made me forget about the serious side of life for two hours last night. The smile is still on my face this morning.

It’s all here: a cast of thirty-five, including the dysfunctional Crusoe family, with Nik Lester’s Dame, Ma Crusoe, holding the night together brilliantly, dozens of pirates, including the excellent, dastardly, comic coupling of Dave Smith and Marilyn Fairbairn, a tribe of cannibals, an underwater scene starring an imposing but benevolent Neptune, a lovesick gorilla (yes, honestly!), and a suitably happy ending, with three concurrent, happy marriages. The large audience, 70% of which were under 16, were encouraged to participate from the start, and we all had a wonderful time, shouting, booing, warning the heroes of danger, singing along, catching the sweets that were regularly thrown at us, and eventually sighing happily when all the lovers were united. Even Ma Crusoe got her man, the gruff, masculine Captain Bowsprit: well, all the nice boys love a sailor, geddit?!

The costumes were magnificent, choreography of the many set-piece sing-alongs was inventive, the script was deliciously contemporary and specific to Banbury, and although the technical crew made some small blunders during a very busy and complex show, our enjoyment was never affected.

Don’t go looking for political correctness, subtle characterisation, or a story with logic. Instead, let Katy Weston’s handsome and brave Robinson befriend you and take you on an exciting, colourful, and action-packed journey that will leave you smiling and celebrating the peculiar and wonderful institution called traditional British pantomime. You’ll love it! Oh, yes you will!

October 15, 2007
Preview: Banbury Cross Players 2007/08 season – it could include you!

On Tuesday October 9th, at their gorgeous home, The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury (which has recovered from extensive flooding in super-quick time), Banbury Cross Players announced the line-up for their new season, and for the first time in their 60-plus year history, have decided to hold open auditions for three of their four forthcoming productions. If you want to get involved in top-quality amateur theatre, performed in a professional environment, with a friendly but passionate group of people, I have some dates for your diary!

Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates, by Paul Reakes, is already in rehearsal, so you are too late to be in it, but the short scene that was performed as an appetiser on Tuesday was fast-paced, funny, and charmingly staged, with slapstick, chases, and chats to the audience. From November 22nd to December 1st at The Mill: looks promising.

The other three productions are all excellent plays, and each has an audition night to which all are invited.
On Thursday October 25th, auditions at The Mill, at 8pm, for two men and one woman, aged 40-plus, to be in Men of the World, by John Godber, about three coach drivers who travel throughout Europe in the course of their work, and the multitude of characters they meet. Thursday November 8th, again at The Mill, this time at 7.30pm, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, “an improbable comedy” based on an Oscar Wilde short story, is looking for men and women from their late 20s to early 60s.
Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitemore is a biographical drama about Alan Turing, the man who cracked the Nazi’s complex Enigma Code in World War Two. The production needs male and female actors aged from late 20s through to early 60s, and auditions are on Thursday January 17th, at The Mill, at 8pm.
You can find further details on the BCP website, or you can email them at or just pick up the phone and call Linda Shaw (who will also direct Men of the World), on 07802 301726.

I was made welcome by everyone last Tuesday, and the whole evening, which included a delightful Noel Coward one-act play and short rehearsed readings as well as speeches and summaries, was expertly coordinated by June Ronson, the current Chair of the company. BCP is a talented group with a big heart: go and see them!
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