February 26, 2015

Nevermind ‘Black Friday’, ‘Cyber Monday’ or ‘Giving Tuesday’, the traditional start of the run-down to Christmas for the UK’s professional and financial services sector is the Autumn Statement. It also coincides with the start of the pantomime season. This year the Westminster Theatre put on the Wizard of Osborne and we at Infinite Spada gathered together to enjoy the lunchtime show.

The plot was based on an original story by the Office of Budget Responsibility. Of course, the tale had been considerably adapted to suit the crowd-pleasing instincts of executive director Lynton Crosby, and crowd-pleasing it certainly was, at least for some of the audience.

Principal Boy, George Osborne, put on a convincing performance, with plenty of slapstick and double-entendres – mostly at the comic expense of his nemeses, the Two Eds. In some scenes he even donned his opponents’ political clothes to conjure up shots aimed at those traditional pantomime baddies – the banks, the tax-avoiding multinationals, wealthy property owners and the evil Non-Doms. Osborne is clearly a man with an eye on the future; May 2015 to be specific. “Oh yes he is.”

The supporting cast were in fine voice, especially Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb who, sitting next to the Prime Minister, spent much of the performance bouncing up and down in his seat, pointing and pulling faces at those opposite him. A few of the cast were less sure of what to do with themselves, especially the Liberal Democrats, who struggled to know how to react to many of Osborne’s best lines. “Oh no he isn’t… is he?”

Being a panto, facts and plausibility are inevitably secondary to ensuring a fast and enjoyable plot that is easily understood by those of all ages and interests, even if this requires a deus ex machina to provide a resolution to the story. It’s a show that’s likely to run until well into the new year.