By Bejay Browne and Alix Norman
Local theatre production company Rubber Ear has taken up a residency in a Paphos venue with the aim of offering year round entertainment including stand up comedy and plays, and kicking off with a panto.
Founded by actress, writer and director Kathleen Ruddy, the comedy theatre company has already built up a solid reputation in the UK and Cyprus with offerings such as Sex, Chips and Ouzo; The Devil Wears Primark; Spare Ribs and others written by Ruddy. The group has now taken up residency at Anno Polis, a bespoke theatre warehouse conversion in the heart of Paphos old town.
“The idea is to bring many plays to Paphos, as well as some UK stand-up comedy, and special events all year long and not just the summer months, as we have in the past,” the actress told the Cyprus Mail.
The new venture kicks off with a family friendly panto written by Ruddy, Jack and the Beanstalk, opening in early December. And Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without one. Larger than life characters, side-splitting references to topical issues, dastardly villains and valiant heroes, rains of sweets, hecklers in the back row, scandalous costumes (ditto costume changes), and high jinks galore: everything that makes panto truly fantastic: Rubber Ear promises it all.
Jack and the Beanstalk promises a riot of a plot, with a host of fabulous characters played by a cast of professional actors. The basic fairy-tale remains the same, easily recognised by kids and adults alike. But in true pantomime spirit, the story has been magnificently reworked and now takes place between London and – wait for it! – the magical city of Lapithos…
“When we first meet our main characters, Jack and his mother, the Widow Pantyfeather, they’re living in a high rise flat in Hackney, London,” explains Kathleen with a grin. “They were part of the mass exodus from Cyprus, and they’re terribly poor. To them, everything is bigger and better in Cyprus: the streets are paved with gold because the expats have glamourised the old world; it’s an amazing magical place they all came from.”
Of course it’s also currently home to the terrible giant who invaded the city of Lapithos, caused the residents to flee, and killed Jack’s father (‘Iacovou the giant slayer’) so it doesn’t look like anyone will be returning any time soon. But wait! When Jack is conned into selling his cow – leaving our protagonists utterly destitute – he decides it’s high time to put his lazy, Candy Crush-playing days behind him and head back to Cyprus – not only to avenge his father’s death, but also to reclaim the riches of Lapithos. Oh, and rescue the feisty Electra, who’s looking after the giant…
With a supporting cast of merry mice – played by local children – and riotous characters such as the rhyming McFlitter twins (one of whom is played by Kathleen), this is a performance that will out-sparkle the Christmas tinsel and make the audience merrier than eggnog. Thanks, in no small part, to the multi-talented professionals who have been called in to make Jack and the Beanstalk really top notch viewing.
“We’ve got an excellent team,” Kathleen confides. And though she can’t yet reveal all of those involved, she does mention renowned duo Barber and Benson – stars of the London comedy circuit – and New Zealander Eddie Mann, known for his film roles, performances at the Globe and musical abilities on everything from the mandolin to the harmonica!
A massive leap from her usual offerings of Carry On style farce, topped off with a smattering of suggestiveness and smut, her latest offering promises to keep children and adults of all ages engaged and entertained.
Rubber Ear Productions are already planning ahead, including the run up to 2017, when Paphos will hold the prestigious title of Cultural Capital of Europe, an honour it will share with Aarhaus in Denmark.
Upcoming performances will include: Abigail’s Party, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Check Your Coupon, A million Tiny Plays about Paphos, The Snowman, Sex, Chips and Ouzo, Shirley Valentine, The Scotsman, The Englishman & The Irishman – a trio of British and Irish stand-up comedy and cabaret and burlesque acts from Velvet Nights.
“There will also be many one-off events like St Patricks Night and Burns Supper with bands coming from Scotland and Ireland, and a murder mystery is also planned in cooperation with the well-known UK Company, The Walking Theatre Company,” Ruddy said.
She said the company also wants to bring afternoon theatre to the island, which they believe will be suitable for many older people, who perhaps don’t drive and like to be home early. “It will be similar to the UK where you get a play, a pie (or piece of quiche) and a pint (or glass of wine) for £10.”
But for now, Jack and the Beanstalk promises to put the sparkle into family Christmas. So round up the grannies, the kiddies and the cousins, and get booking the best seats in the house. Because this, as the tagline says, is “the panto you’ve all bean waiting for!”
Jack and the Beanstalk
A pantomime by Kathleen Ruddy. Ano Polis Theatre, Paphos with two performances per day on December 4 (12pm / 4pm) December 5 (12pm / 4pm) December 6 (12pm / 7.30pm) and at the Pano Polemidia Cultural Centre, Limassol on December 7 (12pm / 7.30pm). Tickets are €15 (reductions for school groups / block bookings of 100+). Call 99908434 or 99060074 for reservations and information. Ano Polis will also be offering a Christmas themed buffet for adults and children at specially-reduced rates for the duration of the shows. Adults will also have access to bar facilities