Is this year’s panto as good as ever?

The auditorium, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

Well, not so sure. This is the first time in 30 years that Berwick Kaler has not starred in the York Theatre Royal pantomime although he did write and co-direct it. He also appeared in the filmed section which has become an annual fixture.

The auditorium, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
The auditorium, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

I don’t think the issue was the lack of Berwick so much as that the pantomime can be a bit hit and miss. Some years you come away having laughed solidly all the way through, other years not so much although it is always very good with plenty of audience participation, great sets and costumes, no smut and Wagon Wheels aplenty!

Whether you like it or not is, of course, subjective. It was always going to be tricky continuing the pantomime after Berwick’s retirement but I think they have succeeded very well, particularly as the usual cast were all in there.

Foyer, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Foyer, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

Like last year, we had places in the Dress Circle, only this time on the side nearest to where you enter. The accessibility is just great, the lift is spacious and you don’t need to back out of it as it has doors on more than one side. They could maybe have created a wider corridor outside the lift but were probably restricted by the space available and have done the best they can. It would be good to know what their policy is on evacuation of wheelchair users in case of fire. Obviously, it’s not something you want to think about but I suppose one should.

The staff are all incredibly helpful and pleasant and the honeycomb ice-cream is delectable. The pantomime runs until 25th January.

As usual, we parked in Duncombe Place, braving its horribly rough tarmac.

Will we go next year? There’s plenty of time to decide.

Check out more reviews of accessible places to visit.

Refurbished York Theatre Royal!

Our annual trip to the panto at York Theatre Royal was extra interesting as this was our first visit since the theatre reopened after its £6 million refurbishment.

Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

It now incorporates what was an open-air colonnade (previously full of fag-ends and pigeon poo!), now glassed in and turned into a bar/café area and expanded box office and all beautifully accessible with automatic doors.

The auditorium, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
The auditorium, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

There is also a lift up to the Dress Circle, and there are wheelchair spaces both there and in the stalls. There are several rows at the front of the stalls where there are no steps; the rest of the stalls have been raked. We were in row C and it only really occurred to us once we were seated that there wasn’t much room for people to get past to their seats further along. People were very accommodating and either went round a different way or stepped over but we realised that if you were in row B, you wouldn’t have this issue as there is no seat in front of the end seat – we shall have to book very early next year to get the perfect seat!

Bar area, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Bar area, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

I was able to leave my scooter over by the wall – the nearby steward was quite happy for us to leave it there as it was not in anyone’s way.

I think generally the alterations are for the better – there is so much more space: it used to be quite a crush in the foyer before a performance.

Foyer, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Foyer, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

The accessible loos (at ground at Dress Circle level) are new and good and the stewards all very friendly and helpful. As before, they provide booster seats for small children, have audio-described and BSL interpreted performances and the ice-creams at the interval are fabulous!

As for the panto – it’s a bit of institution and people seem to love it or hate it! We’ve been every year for the past 25, sometimes with members of my family who loved it too – you don’t need to be local to enjoy it. They don’t include any smut and the odd political comments are infrequent and mild. There was plenty of opportunity to boo and hiss the baddy and a fair bit of other audience participation.

Café, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Café, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

I definitely recommend it and recommend checking out the refurbishment if you have ever visited the theatre and not found it very user-friendly – it’s so much more accessible now!