Pam Ann: Flying with Winter Wonder-Pam, Bloomsbury Theatre, London
Wednesday 29 December 2004
Having bid an emotional farewell at Heathrow to a good friend bound for Sydney in the afternoon, boarding Pam Ann's scheduled "flight" to Sydney in the evening had a cruel irony to it.
Having bid an emotional farewell at Heathrow to a good friend bound for Sydney in the afternoon, boarding Pam Ann's scheduled "flight" to Sydney in the evening had a cruel irony to it. Fortunately, Caroline Reid's kitsch trolley-dolly parody provided a high enough standard of in-flight entertainment for the majority of her passengers, myself included, to forget their earthbound woes.
On this particular night, the first Saturday of her run, all the main long- and short-haul airlines seemed to be represented in the audience, and on occasion the show felt like an amalgamated air industry Christmas party. But while the workers will always lap up the in-jokes, in this era of the bargain flight not even the civilians were left behind for too long.
As the glamorous and elitist face of the skies, however, Pam Ann has little truck with the no-frills approach. So if you were in economy (in other words, the Circle seats), or worked for an economy airline ("Melbourne? That's 40 Edinburghs to you, easyJet, or 40 Corks to you, Ryanair"), you were in line for a bit of air rage. "Some of us get to first class, while some of us complain of a sore arse," mused Pam, and judging by the plastic glasses that were thrown from economy at one point, she had some "passengers" correctly sussed as cheap.
Resembling a cross between Toni Collette and Elsie Tanner and resplendent in her turquoise uniform, Pam Ann laid it on thick for the better behaved travellers in first class, (the front row), upgrading one lady to the very exclusive hot seat on stage. If this kept some of the audience on their toes, her bitchy banter with a group of stewardesses on the same row was more flat-footed. However, in the midst of all this were some nice caricatures - for example, her impression of horsey BA staff or her take on refreshment trolley etiquette - although a stereotype of a Singapore Airlines stewardess was rather crude, if effective.
Though the show never feels like a long haul, there are moments when it is in a vacuum, and nothing quite matches the hilarity of the opening "safety video", which contains pearls of wisdom such as: "What looks like a pleasant flight could end up in serious terror." It's a nice line, one reminiscent of Jimmy Carr, who, incidentally, contributed to Pam's only foray into television a few years ago.
An honourable mention must go to Pam's People, four "hunks" dancing to disco tunes in costumes that include inflatable plane tutus - very popular with the large gay contingent in the audience and, mostly, a fun interlude on the journey. Pam herself is, as one might expect, gay royalty, as befits a lady who has supported Cher on tour.
But despite her cult status her schtick is very accessible, and whether gay, straight, economy or club class, Pam Ann offers everyone something with wings on - even if it's not always supersonic.
To 8 January (020-7388 8822)
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Reader dilemma: 'Our son is 34 with an IQ of 85, and spends all his time in his room. What will happen to him when we're no longer here?'
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Russian officials ban yoga because it's too much like a religious cult
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Ginger Pride festival to take place next summer, organisers say 'time of bullying gingers is over'
Glastonbury 2015: The best things you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to how beautiful the festival is
The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair at Glastonbury is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Guillaume Tell, Royal Opera House, review: Gang rape and stripping naked of female actor met with boos
Glastonbury 2015: Shocking scenes of rubbish left strewn across campsite as clean-up begins
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?