Nanny Nellie’s Adventures in Pantoland: A free-range frenzy

Review: Some may quail at a production depending so heavily on breaking wind


Cork Opera House

“We’re back!” exclaims a rapturous Nanny Nellie as Frank Mackey, channelling a buxom Mrs Doubtfire, reintroduces herself to an audience thrilled to renew her acquaintance. These siren tones also announce that the lay-off now so joyously, if tentatively, ended has not allowed any noticeable enlargement of her character, apart from her skirts which seem to have expanded, like a virus, exponentially.

Given the conditions imposed by our current virus, Cork Opera House is not providing a pantomime but has collected available talent and themes to form a kind of anthology of pantos past, which becomes a meagre storyline about a precious volume of old fairy tales. It’s disappointing even in these circumstances that the abbreviation imposed on time and text still depends on tired phrases, double-takes and double-meanings. Even those whose theatrical creed insists that all pantomimes worthy of the name must have a quota of gags relating to natural bodily functions might quail at a production depending so heavily on breaking wind as in Nanny Nellie’s Adventures.

Supporting this fartathon, the reliable powers of the technical crew come to prominence, with Ronan Holohan’s music, Keith Clancy and Francesca de Buyl’s sound design, Drew McCarthy’s lighting and Ciaran Connolly’s choreography all to the fore.


Although making an effort at indicating, not to mind reproducing, something of the magic of pantomime this free-range frenzy from Mackey and director Trevor Ryan does succeed in creating the noise, colour and activity that is not expected to mean anything at all but is essential to the general enjoyment experienced here. Several recognisable fairy-tale characters appear to assist hero Jimmy Brockie as Jack and heroine Phoebe Dipple as Jill sing their charming way to defeat the wicked Balthazar of Michael Grennell, powerfully articulate despite a nose to humiliate Cyrano De Bergerac.

Runs at Cork Opera House until Sunday, January 9th