Panto Characters That Should be Cancelled in 2021

As we reach the end of perhaps the worst year in living memory, now is the time to cancel some of the worst characters from the land of panto

Feature by Amy Taylor | 14 Dec 2020
  • Panto Characters That Should be Cancelled in 2021

Jesus fuck, what a year. The economy? Decimated. Live theatre? Cancelled. Panto? Well, there is a little balsa wood raft of hope floating on a sea of inevitable cancellations and postponements this Christmas. A number of theatres across the country have adapted their traditional panto so it can be screened online, which means that you can enjoy your annual Christmas show in the safety of your own home.

However, as we take stock of the theatrical wasteland this Christmas, it’s time that we all face an uncomfortable truth. Your panto faves are problematic. These characters are bad people and when panto returns in 2021, they shouldn’t be allowed back on stage. It’s time to write them out of the scripts and out of our memories. Let’s cancel them just in time for November 2021 and start over, with a healthier, happier panto season. Don’t believe me? Here are the worst of the worst panto characters set to be seen online this year.

The Beast, Beauty and the Beast

The Beast from Beauty and the Beast (screened by Fizzgig Theatre at Mugdock Park, Stirling) is no stranger to a ribbing in The Skinny. He's a proper nasty rich boy whose outside most definitely matches what’s going on inside. We get it, it’s hard living in a big castle with the unlimited privilege of being a cis het male that the patriarchy provides. It’s hard being held accountable for your actions and having to literally transform into a better person. But the Beast is probably the most obviously problematic hero in panto.

Benefiting from generational wealth, entitlement and fury, there’s really nothing redeemable about him, and it’s nothing to do with his appearance, but everything to do with his actions. He imprisons a young woman in his castle, and she falls in love with him. You can’t imprison someone and defend yourself by saying they are well-treated; even women in the 18th century were entitled to free will. This isn’t romance, it’s Stockholm Syndrome. #FreeBelle.

The Real Parents, Rapunzel

Panto parents, I beg of you, please... stop promising to hand over your unborn child to an evil witch to make up for your failings as a human being. The witch isn’t going to be a strong mother figure, and the child is going to grow up in really horrific circumstances.

Take Rapunzel (screened by The Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh and the National Theatre of Scotland) for example. Doomed before she’d even left her mother’s womb, thanks to her parents unwisely stealing plants from an evil witch’s garden. Incredible work, we stan a pair of parenting legends. Anyway, instead of facing the consequences of their crime like the grown adults they clearly are, they offer up their unborn child as collateral to escape the consequences; bet they didn’t put that on Instagram.

Thanks to her parents, she grows up in a tower with no contact from the outside world, not allowed to cut her hair, and is finally freed by a thirsty Prince who does the bare minimum of rescuing her from her wretched existence. Traditionally, the evil witch is blamed for Rapunzel’s predicament, but the real blame lies with her selfish, absent parents. Why? They knew what they were doing when they stole from a witch. They gave the witch their child and never came back, while the witch raised the child as only an evil witch can.

The Prince, Sleeping Beauty

It’s 2020, and #MeToo is ongoing because people still don’t understand or care about consent. Just like the Prince in Sleeping Beauty (Aberdeen Arts Centre) who ignores every physical, emotional and psychological boundary known to man in order to essentially sexually assault a sleeping woman.

Now, it’s well-known that the Prince kisses the Princess to break the sleeping curse that she was put under thanks to her father’s hubris, but that’s a whole other story. However, according to the fairy that cast the spell, all the Prince had to do to break the curse was wake her up. Instead of banging a wooden spoon against a saucepan and shouting “Get up!”, he chose to kiss her. Imagine the horror of waking up with a weird stranger kissing you. A stranger kissing you on the lips, no less! All he needed to do was give her a gentle nudge, but he went in for a kiss. What a creep. Tell your friends to stay away from him.

Remember folks, sleeping people can’t consent. If they’ve been sleeping for 100 years, don’t even try it, just leave them alone to their dreams, go bother someone else, preferably someone who’s conscious, alright?

Remember, the bad behaviour isn’t just limited to these characters in these pantos – “nice guy” princes appear in all pantos. Lazy parents lurk in every Christmas show. There has to be a zero-tolerance approach to bad behaviour in panto in 2021. People don’t change, but panto can!