Beowulf the panto? Oh yes it is

Charles Court Opera bring their 'Epic Panto' Beowulf to the King's Head Theatre, Islington, for Christmas 2021

Charles Court Opera bring their 'Epic Panto' Beowulf to the King's Head Theatre, Islington, for Christmas 2021 - Credit: Courtesy of Charles Court Opera

After last year's virtual Snow White in The Seven Months of Lockdown, Charles Court Opera's annual 'boutique panto' returns to The King's Head in Islington with a wickedly entertaining festive makeover of Beowulf. Based on past form, audiences can expect raucous, irreverent slapstick fun with the Old English hero, Grendel, Grendel's mother and a maelstrom of fantastical characters, coupled with musical numbers delivered by a talented cast. Writer/director John Savournin is dividing his time between rehearsing and playing Captain Corcoran at The London Coliseum in the ENO's HMS Pinafore, but spared a second to answer some questions.

John Savournin is writer and director of Beowulf An Epic Panto at the King's Head

John Savournin is writer and director of Beowulf An Epic Panto at the King's Head and is also starring in HMS Pinafore at The London Coliseum - Credit: Supplied

Q: Why Beowulf the panto?

A: On the face of it, it's a far from an obvious choice for a comic show - let alone a panto. But it's that incongruity that makes it fun to play with. The fantastical elements, battles, monsters, dragons, heroes... it is absolutely ripe for parody.

Q: How are rehearsals going and how is it fitting in with Pinafore?

A: We've had a great week working on choreography for the fantastic, original songs. The cast are some of the very best, highly skilled comedians and singers, who make an excellent team to work with. Lucky for me, HMS Pinafore performances are nicely spaced out, so I can split my hats comfortably, with strategic days off!

Q: What can audiences expect this year?  

We've given it an 'epic' feel, reminiscent of 1980/90s superhero cartoons and games, and it's going to be an absolute blast. We've got a dragon, an underwater swim, an epic dance number. The design by Stewart J Charlesworth is utterly amazing - it feels like it might burst forth from the tiny King's Head Theatre stage. And the songs by David Eaton are so flipping catchy that you can expect to be toe tapping fiercely throughout.

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Q: Will there be any changes due to Covid measures?

AAs with all theatres, the audience will be encouraged to wear face masks and we are also advertising some socially distanced performances, where everyone will be asked to wear a mask. But even with restrictions, we are just SO excited to be back in a theatre, bringing our special brand of festive fun back to Islington.

Beowulf An Epic Panto runs at The King's Head Theatre from November 26 to January 8 with both adult only performances and children's matinees.


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