Stuffed full of leftover Christmas turkey and with the kids going stir-crazy, we reach a point where we just want to get out of the house at this time of year. Many families head for the theatre to see a pantomime. But some say that panto is past its sell-by date and has no relevance to modern life. With this in mind, I have updated some of our best-loved stories to give them a modern twist.
Aladdin and the Magic iPad
Setting: An east London borough
Aladdin lives with his widowed mother who runs the local laundry. Though she has long struggled to make ends meet, Aladdin’s mother has brought him up to be a kind and law-abiding young boy.
One day, while walking through the park, Aladdin sees an old man being beaten up by a gang of yobs. Using his martial arts skills (everyone knows that all Chinese kids are good at Kung Fu) Aladdin beats off the yobs and saves the old man from a severe kicking. From the pocket of his long coat, the old man produces a magic iPad which he gives to Aladdin as a reward. The iPad has a magic programme that downloads all the movies and games before they are on general release. Within a couple of weeks, the magic iPad has made Aladdin the most popular boy in his school.
Meanwhile, in a tower in Canary Wharf, sits a shadowy Middle-Eastern financier known only as ‘The Sheikh’. The Sheikh also knows of the magic iPad’s existence and that it contains a programme capable of manipulating the world’s financial markets. He had sent his henchmen to steal it from the old man but they had arrived too late. Now he sits cursing its loss and hatching a plan to take it from Aladdin.
A few days later, one of the Sheikh’s goons appears in Aladdin’s street offering to trade old iPads for the new upgraded version. He knocks on Aladdin’s door and charms the Widow Twankey with his smooth and flattering words. He persuades her that, as all kids just want the latest version of the latest gadget, her son will be overjoyed when he arrives home from school to find that his crappy old iPad has been traded in for a brand new one. She asks the Sheikh’s henchman how much it will cost but he tells her that there is no charge for such a beautiful lady. Blushing, she hands over the magic iPad.
When Aladdin gets home and finds out what his mother has done he is furious. Immediately he contacts his friends and they make a plan to get the iPad back. Using his contacts on Facebook and Twitter he soon finds out that the Sheikh is behind the theft of the magic iPad. Aladdin and his friends organise a flash-mob which surrounds the Sheikh as he is leaving his Docklands office. Aladdin gets the iPad back and the flash-mob chases the Sheikh away.
It looks like happy-ever-after but the Sheikh is not finished yet. He reports the flash-mobbing to the local police hate-crimes unit, pointing out that many of the tweets and postings in the campaign against him had anti-Arab overtones. The police act quickly. Aladdin and his friends are arrested for Islamophobic hate-speech and the magic iPad is returned to the Sheikh. The Sheikh then uses the iPad to manipulate the world’s money markets, making himself massively rich and bringing about the next global banking crisis.
Cinderella and the Golden Jimmy Choos
Setting: A former communist republic.
Cinderella is a beautiful young woman who lives with her poverty-stricken alcoholic father and her two ugly sisters. The ugly sisters abuse Cinderella, dress her in rags and make her do all the housework, while they spend what little money the family has on clothes and clubbing.
One day, a brightly dressed middle-aged woman appears claiming to be Cinderella’s godmother. She introduces Cinderella to a local ‘businessman’ called Vasily, who likes to be known as ‘The Prince’.
The Prince proves to be very charming and he invites Cinderella to his annual New Year ball. Cinderella’s Godmother buys her some designer clothes for the party, including a pair of gold Jimmy Choo shoes. A bullet-proof limo with blacked out windows arrives to take Cinderella to the ball. She can hardly contain her excitement as it sweeps her up the drive to Vasily’s mansion. Vasily greets Cinderella and ensures that she is given several very strong vodka cocktails. She is beginning to feel light-headed from the dancing and drink when, just before midnight, she is led into a windowless room in which a number of girls of a similar age to Cinderella are ‘entertaining‘ groups of men. Suddenly the reality dawns on her and, before Vasily’s men can grab her, Cinderella escapes. She runs away down the path just as the clock is striking midnight. In her panic, she loses one of her golden shoes on the steps of Vasily’s mansion.
Feeling that Cinderella has disrespected him, and fearing a loss of face among other ‘businessmen’, Vasily resolves to track Cinderella down. His henchmen tour the local villages with the discarded shoe offering a similar pair to any woman who knows of Cinderella’s whereabouts. On hearing this, Cinderella’s ugly sisters betray her hiding place with unseemly haste.
Cinderella is captured by the Prince’s men and taken to his mansion. The Ugly Sisters are rewarded with designer clothes and jobs in Vasily’s niche porn business. Cinderella is trafficked to London to work in a ‘nightclub’ owned by Vasily’s uncle.
Snow White and the Seven Short People
Setting: A housing estate in Northern England
Snow White lives with her wicked stepmother and a succession of ‘uncles’. The stepmother resents her, not only because Snow White’s father walked out and left her, but also because the young girl is pretty and has a happy smile, while the stepmother is ugly, bitter and mean. One day, the stepmother comes up with a solution to her problem. If Snow White were to go missing, she could sell her story to the newspapers, get lots of cash from gullible well-wishers and possibly sue social services for compensation too. She persuades one of the uncles to make Snow White disappear.
The uncle can’t bring himself to kill the child so he drugs her, drives her to a faraway wood and dumps her there. When Snow White wakes up she is very scared. She doesn’t know where she is and it is getting dark. As she sits on a log crying, she is discovered by seven short people who are out picking mushrooms in the wood. They take her back to their cottage and give her a hot meal and a bed for the night.
Although they were made redundant many years ago, the Seven Short People believe in staying cheerful. Every morning they whistle and sing as they head off to the job centre, or to the street corner where the gang masters recruit casual day-labour. Snow White realises that they are poor but hopes that, if she makes herself useful by cleaning the house, they will let her stay. This arrangement seems to suit everyone so they all settle down to their new routine.
Meanwhile, Snow White’s stepmother gives a tearful press conference about her daughter’s disappearance and sells her story to the Daily Rimmer. The donations come flooding in and a national manhunt is launched. Snow White is soon traced to the Seven Short People’s cottage which is then raided by police and social workers. Snow White’s father, who hasn’t seen her for ten years, arrives back in town, blaming the authorities for failing to spot the threat to his daughter and demanding compensation from the council, the police, the NHS and anyone else he can think of. His cause is taken up by the Daily Rimmer’s arch rival the Daily Scum. A vicious tabloid war ensues during which social workers are vilified and the Seven Short People are denounced as paedophiles. Tory MPs blame the collapse of moral standards and Labour MPs blame government spending cuts. A public inquiry orders the complete overhaul (again) of all social services procedures, systems and training, at a cost of £1 billion.
The Daily Scum reporter wins an award for his article ‘Snow White and the Seven Nonces’. Snow White is taken into care and the Seven Short People are bullied into signing the Sex Offenders Register. The council’s Head of Children’s Services is summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.
Coming soon to a theatre near you…..
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!