Listen up peasants, whilst your superior Talley, shares with you the true spirit of Christmas. Get it?
It’s that time of year again boys and girls! No, I’m not talking about a presidential by-election, I’m talking about a good-old fashioned panto. And what could be better than a panto? Why an SU panto of course. It’s perfect when you think about it, both are farcical affairs that are only relevant for a short amount of time in the year, the audience hurls abuse that those involved and it’s received with a lukewarm reception at best. But release your worries of impending failures in the RDS, as Talley reviews the latest iteration of the tale of the SU sabbats in It’s A Not So Wonderful Life.
Our story is set, as most pantomimes are, in the cold post-apocalyptic wasteland, known as the Students’ Union Corridor, where the souls of our cast are trapped behind the newly painted white walls, that are apparently a big deal. Here, we meet our ensemble of miserable and tormented sabbatical officers.
The evil Baron Barry sits high in his tower, looking down on the people of UCD, ignoring their cries over the living conditions in the kingdom. With him, as always, is his faithful and trusted
press officer, narrator, advisor O.Pope, who stands over him and warns him of approaching media personnel and whether he’s about to break confidentiality agreements. Together, they are determined to prevent history from repeating itself, by quashing all forms of a resistance that lead to the downfall of his predecessor. A resistance that he may or may not have constructed, it depends on whose script you read.
But it’s not just the masses of students under the Baron’s tyrannical rule. Residing in the bowels of the fortress is C+C Officer and comic relief character, Tiny Tom “Lovelorn” Monaghan. Here the SU pays homage to pop culture references such as The Good Place, where Monaghan seems to be in his own personal “Bad Place”, being surrounded by boxes of lube and not being able to use any of it, because he “works for a Students’ Union, I’m not getting the ride like.” To add further insult to humility, the panto pays its respects to its Greek origins by placing Monaghan in his own trial of Sisyphus, updating the SU website for eternity, all to no avail. Now call Talley a sadist, but seeing someone do the same thing over and over again until insanity seeps in, is side-splitting entertainment.
Production was halted in the run-up to the show last week, when cast member and Education Officer Stephen Crosby faced an identity crisis. Crosby was found pacing his dressing room repeating, almost nonsensically “Am I the Education Officer?” Rumours spread about tensions between Crosby and the production team, when the decision was made to bring back former Education Officer and Ghost of SUs Past, Bobby Sweeney as a cameo appearance for the show. Sweeney has been giving interviews recently about the self-described “golden years” and there are rumours that the Union are planning on bringing him back as a recurring character. Crosby has yet to address the rumours.
This tale was not solely one of woe though, there were some “woke” moments too. Every panto needs a shining heroine to carry the plot, and oh boy, does the Welfairy Melissa Plunkett carry the others. Like many a leading lady, her contribution to the plot may be overshadowed by the buffoonery onstage, but her contributions to the production have not gone unnoticed. Despite being listed as a supporting character, Melissa has been a crowd favourite and when asked by other cast members, if she felt that she took attention from their stage time, she replied “I ain’t stopping you dude.”
Every panto needs a Dame, and Graduate Officer Niall Torris, lets his hair down with the personification of Gloria Wholes. Donning a traditional, understated evening gown and plastering on enough makeup to make Dame Edna blush, Torris has been lip-syncing disco hits on his radio show every week. Adding to the mystery of the relevance of his role in the ensemble, Talley wonders whether, when they revise the book for the show, his character be left on the cutting room floor.
This year, the SU tried their darndest to get more audience members than their rivals, TCDSU. This competition shows in the extravagant sets that UCDSUs budget have allowed them to acquire. TCD, in a last-ditch effort on damage control, blamed their union-funded publication The University Times on running them into so much debt. Fans were left sceptical and aware that when a union blames a publication for their losses, there is usually more to the story.
In summation, UCDSU’s It’s A Not So Wonderful Life left the students feeling even more bleak about their current situation, right up until the final butchered notes of the ensemble’s rendition of Everybody Hurts.