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Pantomime plays with theatrical boundaries

WHAT: Hickory Dickory Doc WHERE: Eagle Eye Theatre (Squamish) WHEN: Dec.

WHAT: Hickory Dickory Doc

WHERE: Eagle Eye Theatre (Squamish)

WHEN: Dec. 8, 9, 13, 14, 16

If you’ve ever wanted to get in on theatrical action, so to speak, then perhaps the latest offering from Between Shifts theatre group is the perfect vehicle for crowd participation.

Designed primarily for kids, this pantomime production also has plenty of adult humour taken from local political issues. But the silliness instilled in pantomimes is not lost, according to publicist Rose Marie Carreras of the Howe Sound Players.

"It’s very family oriented, and very intimate," Carreras said. "And the silliness is loved by the kids. But there are some inside jokes adults will appreciate that might be missed by the kids."

Carreras says the response so far from Hickory Dickory Doc has been good, and a matinee on Saturdays at 2 p.m. opens up more opportunity for folks from up and down the corridor to see the play without having to drive Highway 99 in the evening. Thursday through Saturday evenings, the play begins at 8 p.m.

So what is a pantomime?

"To me, it invites audience participation," Carreras said. "And a lot of interaction."

Based loosely on the nursery rhyme called Hickory Dickory Doc, the pantomime version was written by Norman Robbins, and involves a zany cast of colourful characters such as the Wizard of Bong, the Black Imp, a magical grandfather clock and the two good hearted children, David and Mary, who try to thwart the villain’s efforts to steal the all powerful Jewel of Miracles.

Directed by Gordon McInnis (who directed Busy Body and played King Pellinore in Camelot), Hickory Dickory Doc is not such a new idea as much as it is a less performed art.

"It goes back to the early 1800s, where you take a fairy tale or a nursery rhyme and build a story around it," McInnis said. "There’s always two central characters. Kind of a Laurel & Hardy type thing. And there’s always a dame played by a man. Robbins has written half-a-dozen of these things so far in his career and he does it for kids, but also for adults to enjoy."

McInnis says the louder the audience, the better the play, because the "fourth wall" is, or should be, broken down. The fourth wall is the imaginary wall at the front of the stage – where the audience is looking in. The other three walls are stage left, stage right and the backdrop.

"The stories are always basically simple. This is a chase scene into never-never land," McInnis explained. "It’s a real spoof. But we’ve also localized it by spiking in some political issues. A lot of things that people in the Sea to Sky corridor will understand."

McInnis added that although the plot and dialogue might be simple for this production, the sets designed by Lise Hamilton and Val Clark are both stunning and basic, letting the six separate scenes for the play be converted quickly and easily.

Both Carreras and McInnis say the longer than usual three-week run of Hickory Dickory Doc is designed for the hectic holiday schedule, so that almost anyone interested can choose a weekend or weekday, depending on their Christmas commitments. And at least one evening performance, which took place Dec. 7, had all proceeds benefit the Squamish Christmas Care fund.

Tickets for Hickory Dickory Doc cost $10 for adults, and $5 for kids and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the door of Eagle Eye Theatre in the Howe Sound Senior Secondary in Squamish, Xanthine's, the Style Zone and Fruit of the Vine, all in Squamish. For more information, call Rose-Marie Carreras at 604-898-9404.