Published in The List 3 November 2023

If the culture wars were an actual thing rather than the delusions of some Tory sociopaths, where would pantomime be in the battle? By rights, this curious British tradition should be a godsend for the illiberal and a nightmare for the wokerati. ‘Pantomime does NOT need to be politically correct, says Christopher Biggins,’ trumpeted the Daily Express a few years ago with evident glee. And it would be easy to side with the newspaper’s implication that panto is the most conservative of artforms.  

When Cinderella marries into money, does she not reinforce the patriarchal view of women as powerless damsels and men as figures of authority? Isn’t the cross-dressing dame a sexist assault on femininity, a grotesque parody designed to put women in their place? Doesn’t every pretty young girl who kisses a beast, transforming him into a handsome prince, make it so much worse for those who reject conventional ideas of beauty and ugliness? [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).