Bluebeard: the panto

posted in: Age of the Beard, Events | 0

Last week saw two evening openings for performances of our hirsute panto Bluebeard, bringing the bright lights of the stage to the museum world.

Audience members were given a party popper and songsheet as they entered the gallery and were welcomed as wedding guests for an evening of bawdy music hall songs, smutty soliloquys and jovial innuendo.

Before curtain up, there was time for guests to peruse the exhibition, wine in hand, and I grabbed a few to chat about their opinions of facial fluff.

One chap, resplendently Viking-esque with his chin bristles, said that he’d nurtured them for many a year and would never be forced to part with them – although he did regularly visit his barber in order that they didn’t grow too long for fear of “looking like a tramp”.

Another lady was of a similar opinion, although she was more a fan of a completely bald-face and griped at her boyfriend’s lack of enthusiasm for shaving. She explained that, from his perspective, this was more out of the inconvenience of it than a desire for cultivating facial hair and that he would “leave it as long as he can get away with” before reaching for the razor. Shaving was, in his mind, the lesser of two evils.

The audience/wedding guests then took to their seats for the evening’s entertainment in which the gruesome and ghoulish tale of Bluebeard the pirate was brought up-to-date as the anti-hero navigated the thrills and horrors of online dating, finding a potential match in Arsabella Numchuff.


After some initial flirtatious correspondence, the pair eventually met at Bluebeard’s “carsole” and quickly decided to embark on married life together.


The hope and spectacle of their wedding was soon followed by a stark realisation for Arsabella that she had married a tyrant and one fateful afternoon, taking the opportunity of him setting off on horseback for the day, she and her sister explored the fortress’s nooks and crannies before happening upon a forbidden locked closet. After many “Oh yes you should!”s from the audience, she bravely unlocked the door only to unleash a trio of hellish zombie brides, one of which appeared to have completely lost her head.


At this point Bluebeard returned and a violent scrabble ensued as he tried his murderous ways on his new wife before her sister came to the rescue and ensured that Bluebeard met his grizzly fate. In a Jeremy Kyle finale, a surprise twist saw Arsabella and her sister announce their love for one another and delight in the new-found knowledge that they were not siblings after all, bursting into jubilant song and encouraging their guests (and the zombies) to join them.


We at the museum had a hoot putting on the show and can’t think of a better way to have celebrated the beginning of the festive season: having fun with beards! But its not over yet, the Beards event season continues until April 2017 and you can find out more here. (OHHH YES YOU CAN!)

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