Three years ago, a couple arrived in Iden. We saw them leaning on a removal van, each carrying a suitcase. It was clear that they had an aura about them, but little did we know that they would bring the ‘Palladium’ to our village hall, ‘Broadway’ to Iden streets. And Vaudeville to our fields and beyond. They are of course Bob and Debbie Hammond. What a pair and what a pantomime they were responsible for last weekend. ‘Red Riding Hood’ - Well it ROCKED!

Where do I start? Bob Hammond wrote and directed the pantomime and transformed it from a simple fairy story to an epic production. He worked hard. Bob has written for the theatre for many years, and his shows are performed throughout the country. Debbie worked equally hard [when do they even get time to eat, those two], because she sews beautifully, and designed and made the costumes, all of which were the colourful, imaginative and necessarily over the top creations that absolutely ‘make’ a panto. Debbie is also the prompt and adviser, and voice of reason. Debbie, come out from behind that curtain and take a bow [how about you take those pins out of your mouth though]

Bob not only wrote and produced the Pantomime, but had a starring role as the wolf, but not a wolf in some manky, all in one fur creation, but a bit of a ‘ spiv ‘. The costume and the makeup was clever, because we got this evil wolf, with a dapper look, almost as though he was going to the palace for an M.B.E., but killing a few folk on the way [and chickens of course] .And what about those chickens? Led by mother hen, played by Helen Gray, they were a mixed bunch of hen house characters, arguing and vying for attention, and they were plagued by a Randy Rooster [David Tyrrell]. The chickens, played by Janet Wood, Rita Sullivan, Carol Bourne, Paula Riley and Liz Pamboris had chicken mannerisms down to a fine art, and Dave made a fine rooster, strutting his stuff. Teresa Parsons played Clarissa, the chicken hell bent on destroying the wolf. Teresa, the producer, also painted the scenery [I loved the red, spotty po under the bed] and did the make-up [is there nothing that girl can’t turn a hand to]. Janet Wood assisted with make-up .

The Dame [Granny], played by John Harrison was a class act. As usual, his stage presence was as vibrant, as the wig he wore. [Fire engine red] and speaking of fire engines, that Granny was a real siren wasn’t she? Granny’s love interest , Doctor Darling [played by Ray Griffin] doled out pills with gay abandon, and took more than a passing interest in Granny’s chest [I think the wolf must have gobbled up the Hippocratic oath as well as everything else]

Red Riding Hood, played by Hannah Classen, and Tom, the woodsman, played by Madeleine Killelay, were well cast as the young couple teetering on the brink of romance. Like the love interest in most pantomimes, they are the sensible ‘core’ of the show [albeit the sighs of unrequited love], allowing all others around them to play out their idiosyncrasies with aplomb [and there were shed loads of idiosyncrasies!]

Farmer Hood, played by Debbie Curd, and Walter [the village simpleton] played by Stanley Cope, gave a great mentor/pupil performance, although it was clear that Walter hadn’t a clue what was going on!

The musical director Susannah Miller played the piano throughout during rehearsals and performances, and gave encouragement all the way through [Susannah if ever you even think of leaving town, we’re sending out a posse.]

Many thanks go to Richard Cooper for stage management, Mike Lovick for lighting, and Chris Sullivan for construction of the stage extension.

Many thanks to local businesses, who have helped financially towards the new stage curtains. Thanks also to ‘The Bell’ for sponsorship of programme printing, to Geoff and Elizabeth [Iden Stores] for the sale of tickets, and all who helped in front of house.

A special thanks goes to Ian Rhodes [our Ian], who helped throughout with a myriad of jobs, and was always there.

Red Riding Hood was on crutches during the panto because she injured her knee, but those crutches became stars of the show too. Every prompt and faux pas, only adds to the pandemonium which is panto. We wouldn’t have it any other way would we folks? It was wonderful.

Now how do we follow that? Well, there will be a service of Holy Communion in Iden Parish Church at 9.30 am on Sunday 6th April

Tonight, April 4th in the village hall, Iden and District Natural History Society have their AGM, followed by ‘The Mixo Man’, highlighting the work of Tom Stephens, amateur mycologist [for the unenlightened like me that is apparently a botanist who studies fungi]

Now, not content with playing the, [dare I say it] incredibly voluptuous panto Dame, John Harrison is now going under the name of John, ’The Fixer’ Harrison, as totemaster at a Charity Race Night, on 11th April in the village hall at 7.30pm. It’s in aid of the ‘Village Hall Restoration Fund’ and other charities [tickets £10, available at Iden Stores, and there will be a fish and chip supper] Do come along, we could all do with a night out!

I’m going to fill my hot water bottle; this village could wear a person down.

If anyone has anything to add to the village voice, I’ll gladly include it. Please ring Gill Griffin [telephone 01797-280-311]

Gill Griffin

Belfield, Main Street