The Boomkak Panto review
It was truly refreshing to hear and laugh so hard amongst an audience after being deprived of theatre for so long. I think the standing ovation (and this was just the preview!) was a pretty great indicator of how much people loved The Boomkak Panto.
The first thing that got me hooked was the opening atmosphere with the really cool, simple set and pre-show opening music of classic Aussie rock hits that everyone knew. There is no way I’ll be able to cover the plot in this review, and that’s what makes this play so insane and unique. My main takeaway from the show was the outstanding monologue by Virginia Gay (playing Allison), as she unpacks the tragedy and trauma of her past pantomime life in England, slowly becoming more insane, monstrous and hilarious. I would confidently say it was the best monologue I have ever seen!
Every character in the play was strong with timing, pace, vocal ability, physical theatre and interaction with the audience. The satirical storyline included a pantomime inside a pantomime, inside another pantomime, which was revealed to us through the actors repeatedly breaking the fourth wall. The audience was also invited to help guide the play as the performers encouraged us to do panto-like reactions such as booing the bad guy, cheering when they kissed or laughing at the never-ending plot twists. Through irony and exaggeration, The Boomkak Panto explored many relevant political topics such as white privilege and addressing people with their preferred pronouns. They also challenged the typical melodrama story of a happy ending with someone you are not in love with. Due to the fair amount of swearing and sexual references, I would recommend this show for audiences aged 15 and over.
Being only the second preview, I was extremely impressed by the sharpness of each actors’ performance. Particularly the seamless quick changes and connection between cast members. As the play progresses, every character significantly develops and transforms into a different person from when they began, each learning so much along the way. Composed by the very talented Eddie Perfect, the music was incredible, and I am hoping after the production ends at Belvoir they release a recording of the soundtrack to stream. There was also the simple yet clever element of live music played by Hamed Sadeghi, which added another layer to the musical atmosphere and played at every moment of tension, adding to the consistent flow of the show that kept things moving.
Overall this was an experience I will definitely remember, and I believe everyone who comes to see The Boomkak Panto will leave super buzzed having had a much-needed dose of belly laughing fun.
Olivia, 15 (She/Her)
Virginia Gay’s genius pantomime The Boomkak Panto was the perfect way to start the theatre season at Belvoir: it is the embodiment of a good ol’ time.
Set in a small rustic Australian town experiencing current and relevant social/political issues, The Boomkak Panto‘s characters all reflect aspects and stereotypes of Australia. When faced with an evil Mayor who threatens to get rid of their town, these characters decide to embrace the ‘Aussie culture’ of community and came together to override the mayor… and how better to do that than put on a pantomime?
Right from the get-go, the essence of Australia was beaming through the theatre with legendary Aussie hits such as ‘A Gumtree’, the smell of someone smoking a ciggy, the sound of bugs buzzing, and the warm tones projected from the lighting. This sensory experience enhanced the atmosphere and excited the audience. From a sparkly, loud, theatrical opening number to a difficult love story, the plot stayed relevant to reflecting Australian society… whilst taking the mickey. Through characters, plot, and music The Boomkak Panto explored toxic masculinity, gender stereotypes, traditions, environmental and political crisis, and why “pantomime will never die.” The ironic implementation of performing a panto about people making a panto was hilarious and captivating to watch. The way the actors engaged the audience from encouraging verbal engagement, teasing them, and including them in their jokes, made us feel like we were in The Boomkak Panto with them. Zoe Terakes’ performance as Zoe was absolutely outstanding, embodying modern Australian issues. The representation of modern society in the show portrays the progression that theatre needs. The entire cast each gave flawless authentic performances and there was not one moment where they didn’t engage the audience. The standing ovation performance of The Boomkak Panto embodies liberating contemporary Australian Theatre and showed us how our lives are literally as ridiculous as pantomimes.
Olivia, 17 (She/Her)
Belvoir’s The Boomkak Panto is playing at Belvoir St Theatre until 23 December. Book your tickets here.