Imagine this: you’ve been enjoying turkey for Christmas dinner ever since you can remember. Then one day, your family decides that, from next year onwards, turkey’s off the menu. Forever. What??!! Christmas will never be the same again! It’s a tragedy. And this year’s final turkey had better be good: no pressure then.
For our family, Berwick Kaler is the turkey (no offence) and we’ve been feeling pretty bereft since he announced his departure from Christmas dinner/the York Theatre Royal pantomime earlier this year. After 40 years as the finest dame in the country, he’s certainly due a rest, but we won’t half miss him.
Berwick’s swansong is The Grand Old Dame of York, a story that never quite works out what it is or where it’s going. No matter (and no change there): it’s the usual medley of self-declared rubbish that so many York families know and love, with all the best bits left in. Crazy costumes, Harry Gration, catchy songs, Wagon Wheels, the scene where Martin gets drenched: it’s all there to savour one last time. As Berwick himself says, don’t try to explain it to anyone. Berwick, Suzie, Martin and David have never been better: they’re at the top of their game, playing every line for maximum laughs and getting them.
Berwick is bowing out on a high – and with a standing ovation – and that’s just how it should be. The 8-year-old and and I laughed until we cried: it’s the end of an era but we’re still smiling. I’m sure my son will remember our evenings watching Berwick as fondly as I remember watching him with my mum. Thanks for all the memories, and here’s to the next chapter.
The Grand Old Dame of York runs at York Theatre Royal until 2nd February 2019. Visit the York Theatre Royal website for more details and to book tickets