The Scoop is an outside amphitheatre at the location known as More London on the Southbank. Every summer they have a programme of free theatre, music, film screenings etc and as I love free stuff, I wanted to check it out at some point.
The very name The Pantaloons together with the description reminded me of another act I’d seen who I’d never heard of before but had been very pleasantly surprised by – Pappy’s Fun Club. Funnily enough, when doing a bit of research on the troupe today, I discovered that one of their founders also was a founder member of Pappy’s. He must like things beginning with P.
Anyway, so I dashed off straight from work, expecting people to flock to a free showing and wanting to be sure of getting a seat. I needn’t have worried as there was plenty of space, and indeed it didn’t end up filling up. Maybe the grey clouds scared people off. However, my promptness did mean we got to sit very near the action. Set and production-wise, the show was bare bones – a few props and no mikes, so sitting close was sensible if you wanted to see and hear everything. Not only do they act but they play instruments as well.
I am happy to report, that for my first show at The Scoop, I don’t know if I could have picked a better one. If they’re all of this quality then this is definitely worth checking out, and for free as well! As people filed in the actors got in amongst the crowd to entertain us while we waited. At around 6:30 the play began – with a song of course. A song in which the audience sang the chorus “Have a banana”. What else would you expect from a version of The Importance of Being Earnest?
This very much set the tone for the rest of the play. It was very silly and very, very funny. They ran through the whole thing without breaks, using song montages and ‘gameshows’ to seamlessly segue into the next act. There were five performers in total, playing all of the roles, and not above giving a wry nod to the fact that this sometimes meant that two characters couldn’t appear on stage at the same time. Oh – did I mention they had a ‘gameshow’ at one point? Yes, halfway through, to avoid Wilde witticism fatigue setting in, they had an ‘X-factor’ style competition to see which part of the audience could best perform the infamous line ‘A Handbag?!’ We were divided into three sections; section A was the right half of the audience, section B was the left half of the audience, and section C was one unlucky lady in the middle called Vanessa. Section A was called upon to recite the line (which we did very well. I had been rehearsing for this, little did I know it, my whole life, loving as I did this line as a child). Section B was called upon to better us. And then poor section C had a go, rising to the challenge wonderfully. Unsurprisingly, and deservedly, she was awarded the prize.
Another delight was when, after this break in the action, they did a 'movie recap' managing to shoehorn in an impressive number of catchphrases while they reminded you what had happened thus far, with the appropriate movie theme music being played in the background.
I thoroughly enjoyed this romp of a show. I even almost forgot I was sitting on cold stone for a good two hours (they hire out cushions for a pound but these are minimal comfort). Towards the end of the evening the cold was setting in a bit, making it a little hard to concentrate, but at least it didn’t rain as I’d feared. There were programs for sale (I didn't buy one) and at the end of the performance, they asked, if you enjoyed it for a donation (which I gave). If we ever get some more summer weather, do check out the Scoop's line-up and give it a try. If it's anything as good as The Pantaloons, it will be well worth it.
Below, a few photos...
|Lady Bracknell is dismayed at the engagement|
|Miss Prism and The Rev flirt|
|The entire ensemble in the denouement|