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York
A Little Chat With Legendary Stooge: Martin Barrass At The York Theatre Royal Panto
Lauren Masterman, York Correspondent
Martin Barrass. Photo by Robert Day
Christmas doesn't officially start in Yorkshire until York Theatre Royal's panto season kicks off. Well, it's time to let the festivities begin as Berwick Kaler, Martin Barrass and friends take to the stage for another year of merriment and mayhem.

Martin Barrass, long-running legendary stooge, took time away from the custard pies, banana skins and buckets of water to speak to the Yorkshire Times......

Can we expect the same comedy capers from previous years?

Yes! This year there will be more plots than an allotment; it will be totally zany and the audience should expect it to get more and more whacky with each performance. Even as an actor in the show I have learnt to expect the unexpected- especially when working with Berwick Kaler, who constantly ad-libs and puts you on the spot; anything can happen and no two nights are the same.

Will it be all boos, hisses and 'it's behind you'?!

Although the show is totally bonkers, it still keeps tradition at the core. It is packed with up-to-date one-liners but there are the traditional characters of a pantomime and the slapstick, madcap humour that everyone loves about a panto. This really is a special show though, it has an edge over many pantos because it is consistently performed to such a high standard.

Aladdin and the Twankeys in full swing. Photo by Robert Day

Over 35,000 tickets have already been sold, what do you think makes York Theatre Royal's annual pantomime so popular?

For two hours people can forget their worries; it is light-hearted, fun and makes people smile. We seem to have a great formula here. The costumes are fantastic, the cast have a great chemistry and the essential thing about comedy is that it never dates.

Famously, you are the Stooge of York Panto. Tell us (without demonstrating!) about the art of throwing a bucket of water into someone's face.....

Oh dear, well (he says while pushing up his sleeves!) with all your might, you stop, like a cricket batter. If you stop at just the right point, that water comes out in one blob and hits your opponents face like concrete. I have been known to get my own back once in a while but I am usually the one who gets it in the mush! That's the price you pay; you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette!

This is your 28th year of York panto, what is it that keeps bringing you back?

I must be a masochist! When I was acting in One Man Two Guvnors, the sales went through the roof so they extended the show. It was great news but this meant that it would overlap with my rehearsals for the Christmas panto.

I spoke Berwick and explained that I wouldn't be able to do the pantomime that year. He said you can't not do it, just like that, and somehow I managed to get eleven weeks off from my West End show to do York Panto. I just love it.

Will you continue to do York Panto?

As long as my legs can carry me! It is a dream; I love the anarchy of it. It's like a family gathering each year, we get on marvellously, apart from when Berwick tries to steal my jokes......

Aladdin and the Twankeys will be running from Thursday 12 Dec - Sat 01 Feb. For tickets and more information visit the York Theatre Royal website.

A Little Chat With Legendary Stooge: Martin Barrass At The York Theatre Royal Panto, 12th December 2013, 8:51 AM