Academic journal article Theatre Notebook

Victorian Pantomime: A Collection of Critical Essays

Academic journal article Theatre Notebook

Victorian Pantomime: A Collection of Critical Essays

Article excerpt

Victorian Pantomime: A Collection of Critical Essays

Jim Davis (ed)

Palgrave Macmillan, 2010

50 [pounds sterling] (hb), xii + 230,16 illus.

ISBN 9780230221598

Victorian pantomime played a major role in the artistic and social economy of the theatre, functioning as a "signature" presentation by the particular theatres, a focus of local and regional pride, a vehicle for comment on recent and current events and--like the Christmas shows put on by repertory theatres today--if all went well a banker for the rest of the season. This outstanding collection of essays gives a vivid picture of these and other aspects of the genre, while keeping in view pantomime's primary function as popular entertainment in the widest sense. Jim Davis, who has edited the volume, contributes an informative piece on the Drury Lane pantomimes of the late nineteenth century, arguing forcefully for their paradoxical combination of conservatism and--in the music hall stars they employed--an element of subversion. Jill Sullivan and Jo Robinson locate pantomimes in their specific context, both within the geography of a city's shifting entertainment-centres and in relation to local and national politics. Other essays offer valuable accounts of the range of theatres annual productions (Janice Norwood on the Britannia) and the discourses of journalistic reporting and evaluation (Ann Featherstone on the Era in the 1870s, Jacky Bratton on Punch). …

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