A writing challenge

That was what I was posed by a recent commission. An am dram group approached me with the following request - a 'non murder' mystery play that would fit into the December/Christmas slot and include pantomime props. Oh and it had to appeal to a family audience too.

After much brain strumming and drinking of coffee, I came up with the idea that it would be fun to people the play with a cast of pantomime characters. Ok, sounds good but what would bring these characters together? Maybe the fairy godmother was retiring? How about a wedding? And what would the crime be? Strum, strum, sip, slurp. In the end, I chose the scenario of a talent competition - familiar to most of us after the popularity of shows such as 'Britain's Got Talent' and 'X Factor'.

The cast were drawn from various pantomime stories - Dandini as our annoying presenter, two evil judges, a dame and side kick and a handful of other pantomime contestants. Pantomime characters of course require pantomime dialogue and humour. Thankfully I had the experience of writing the Cinderella pantomime to draw from. Balancing that with the talent show format and of course a mystery play proved tricky. On top of that of course, this also had to be suitable for a family audience - pleasing adults and children alike.

It took me a while to find the balance (and not kill off any of the characters) but the day eventually arrived when the play was finished and ready to hand over to the client. Fingers crossed, they and their audience will like 'Pantoland's Got Talent' as much as I do.

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