The Five Fuckboys of Christmas Pantomime
It’s mistletoe and wine time, and in order to help you slay the busy festive theatre season, here’s our helpful and handy guide to the best (worst) of panto’s fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-fuckboys
It’s the time of year where theatres across Scotland invite the pantos in. But among the glitter, the tinsel and the panto dames lies a sinister secret; some of our favourite pantos do not showcase the best male protagonists. In fact, some of them are dyed in the wool fuckboys. From scheming idiots to manipulative dickheads, here are the shows that have some of Scotland's best (worst) boys in panto.
Well, you can’t write about fuckboys without mentioning their unholy cousin: The Softboy. Deep, arty, and totally and utterly in love with themselves, they have strong opinions and stronger emotions. They’re so sensitive, they’re so needy, and they want you to perform a lot of emotional labour for free.
Perhaps the worst offender in panto is The Beast in Beauty and the Beast (at King’s Theatre in Edinburgh, starring Allan Stewart and Grant Stott). While the production is sadly missing Andy Gray due to illness, it’s not missing The Beast’s ragingly emo softboy vibes.
After all, he lives in a castle he got from his parents, he talks to furniture, he’s under a spell cast by a beautiful enchantress, he doesn’t even leave the house (because he’s still not over his ex), so he can’t even work. But he believes that all he needs is a woman, any woman, to listen to him about how hard his life in his big castle with his talking furniture has been. Then they’ll have to fall in love with him and he’ll be complete; he just needs to lock said woman in a castle and remove her free will and he’ll be sorted, righto.
The Ultimate Fuckboy
When it comes to Fuckboys, Prince Charming – who stars in Scottish Ballet’s Cinderella at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh, alongside panto productions at the Gardyne Theatre in Dundee and the SEC in Glasgow – is the leader of them all.
Big PC, who we are often led to believe is the hero in Cinderella’s fairytale, is perhaps the worst of the lot. Spoiled, entitled, and needing to marry to appease his (very, very rich) dad, he engineers a massive social gathering, so he can take his pick from all the women there. Then, when he finds one that he likes, he loses her then raids every home in the kingdom looking for her until he finds her. This guy is the worst. Swipe left.
The Non-Consent Boy
There seems to be an ongoing issue with themes of autonomy and boundaries within panto, by which we mean: These Princes Simply Do Not Understand Consent.
Case in point, we know the tale of Sleeping Beauty – currently being performed at The Byre Theatre in St Andrews – where a beautiful young princess has a bit of a run-in with a magic spinning wheel and is doomed to sleep until some suitor happens to kiss her. Many years pass, and one day said suitor – a prince, no less – literally breaks into her castle and gives her a kiss that she didn’t ask for, thus breaking the spell. But did she ask to be kissed? Hell no.
It’s a similar story with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen, where reliable Snow White eats a bad apple and is put in a glass coffin in the middle of a forest by her heartbroken adoptive family, who believe she is dead and just wanted to watch her rot, I guess. But then, Hark! A noble prince arrives, opens her crystal casket and plants a quick one on her not-quite-dead-yet lips. Of course, she didn’t ask for any of this, she just ate an apple and then woke up and got married. Panto princes, stop kissing unconscious people, they cannot consent. Gain enthusiastic consent, this is very basic information.
The Elusive One
Sometimes we hear stories about someone finding a guy. He’s great, he understands consent, he respects boundaries, he doesn’t lock women in his castle. You could even say that he’s pretty chill. Except the problem is he’s too chill, and his significant other never sees him.
In fact, as in Dundee Rep’s The Snow Queen, she has to travel great distances to find him, often battling strange forces and evil magic in the process. Sure, he got something in his eye, and started acting a bit weird and distant after, and there’s a strange and possessive woman hanging around him a lot, but didn’t they have something? After battling the snow and ice just to see him, he’s elusive and cold, he’s someone else entirely, but could a girlfriend change him? Honey, no, get out of there; this is all very, very unhealthy.
There’s cold and elusive, and then there’s just plain mean. Some fuckboys are just misers who want to watch the world burn and make money from its embers. One such man is Ebenezer Scrooge, currently, perhaps a bit reluctantly, treading the boards in the Citz’s production of A Christmas Carol which takes place at Tramway because of the Citz’s ongoing refurbishment. While they won’t have spared any expense, Scrooge certainly will; in fact, any girlfriend he gets who will try their best to “save him” will probably pay for everything on the days that she gets to see him, because he’s always working. She’ll start to wonder if it’s all really worth it. It’s not. He’s an absolute bastard who can only change himself with the help of a lot of repressed memories and a bunch of ghosts. Nobody needs that in their life. Thank u, next.
The Bona Fide Hipster
Ok, now Jack and the Beanstalk is a classic story and it looks great on stage, so much so that at least three different theatres are staging it this year. While Paisley Arts Centre and the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh are both staging the story we know and love, and the Eastwood Park Theatre is going over and above the call of duty with a new production: Jack and the Beanstalk II: Return of the Farmer, there’s one thing you need to know about ya boy Jack.
He traded a cow for beans. He traded a perfectly good cow – that he could have sold for actual, real money – for what some guy he met told him were “magic beans”. Some guy he’d never seen before and would likely never see again. He ignored his mother’s very clear instructions, and now all he has are beans. He probably carried said “magic beans” home in his pockets, or the artisan tote bag he carries with him at all times. He traded a cow for beans and he thought it was a good deal. It doesn’t matter what the beans did after. He traded a cow for beans. He traded a cow for beans. He traded a cow for beans. Can you imagine what his Instagram would be like?
Take this enlightening guide wherever you go this Yuletide, because a fuckboy isn’t just for Christmas, they can often stick around for years sometimes, and you’re worth more. So, remember, wherever you go this month, from panto to non-Christmas show, there’s a fuckboy lurking somewhere, just make sure that they stay on stage and far away from you.