Is panto suitable for the very young? Oh no it’s not

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I’ve come to the conclusion that pantomimes are not for all the family. That may sound harsh, but I’m truly fed up of buying tickets year after year only to have to sit and listen to either babies screaming or toddlers talking throughout the whole thing.

I’ve paid my money to watch a performance, not to listen to children say ‘can we go now?’ and the parents reply ‘we can’t go until the end’.

‘Oh yes you can!’ I want to shout.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind the odd child asking for clarity, or shouting back, or giggling, I’m not that much of a bah, humbug.

But seriously, why do people think it’s okay to ruin other people’s enjoyment by bringing the entire family along to a panto?

What six-month-old baby is going to get anything from seeing a wicked witch? And what two-year-old, who has to ask questions continually but not about the show, is going to take away a cultural experience?

Surely the whole point of a pantomime is that the family enjoys it, not that little ones are forced to sit through something they are patently not ready for.

And what about the performers on stage? I wonder how they feel about constant talking and chuntering as they battle gallantly through puns and one-liners, not getting so much as a snigger from some of the audience because they are having to listen to little Johnny or Jane complaining that they’re bored.

Well, the rest of us aren’t bored with the show, we’re bored of the whining.

Would we put up with this in the cinema? There would be a few sharp glances (not so successful in the dark, I know) and maybe a few bits of popcorn flung in the offender’s direction before an usher would appear and hover in a manner which suggested ‘get out’.

Of course, the problem with pantos is that we’re all supposed to join in at some stage or another, so it’d be a nightmare to police.

I reckon it’s time for all those parents out there to police their own families and make the responsible decision not to take very young children to pantos.

There, I’ve had my rant and can now go back to being vaguely calm again . . . until next Christmas.