The Panto Reinvented

Rebecca Varidel
3rd Aug 2018

The Pantomime by definition is a theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, which involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story.

Currently performing at the Ensemble Theatre, The Widow Unplugged delves inside the history of the pantomime, in an hilarious tongue-in-cheek one-man-show by the redoubtable Aussie showbiz legend, Reg Livermore.

"Reg Livermore born December 11 1938, was stage-struck from the word go. Regular outings to see pantomimes at the famous Tivoli Theatre Sydney indicated the sort of productions he enjoyed, and hinted at the direction his career would eventually take. At the age of 13 he started hiring local halls to stage performances of his own pantomimes in aid of local charities, his casts made up of coerced neighborhood children and school friends."

Following those early 'panto' days (boom boom) Livermore moved into musicals with show stopping appearances in Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, as the original Dr Frank’n’furter in the Australian Production of The Rocky Horror Show, and in his outstanding one-man-show Betty Blokk Buster Follies - just to name a few of his many amazing roles on stage and on television.

Jump in the time machine to now and the world premier The Widow Unplugged not only stars Livermore, but it was also written by him.  How talented can one man be? And could anyone else but this multi-faceted diamond have carried it off? In his two hour minus interval monologue, he portrays many characters, mispronounces many words, and delivers more than a few deeply resounding belly laughs in each and every line.

The deeper the knowledge and experience in Sydney theatre the more will be revealed. Yet anyone and everyone who loves to laugh will enjoy this.

Although The Widow Unplugged is comedic, it is in fact a play, and also touches us in other ways, through undisclosed dreams and lost opportunities to reminders of our mortality.

The Widow Unplugged, although definitely not a show for children, is an enormously inventive and original play that not only revisits the precious pantomime but with overlays of Vaudeville style grand entertainment reminds us what is lost today.

Photo by Prudence Upton