Poster for a Christmas pantomime
Medium: Print on paper
The pantomime as we know it today was largely developed in the 19th century. Towards the middle of the Victorian era, the principle boy in the cast began to be played by a female star, such as Daisy Lloyd, while the omnipresent Dame was played by a man in lots of padding. Perhaps the most famous Pantomime Dame of this period was Herbert Campbell.
Up until this point, pantomimes were often presided over and narrated by a harlequin: a supernatural character borrowed from Italian theatre, who dressed in a spangled diamond costume. The harlequin operated as the satiric conscience of the piece, laughing at and commenting on the behaviour of the characters. His popularity declined as that of restaging traditional folk tales grew. Cinderella, Mother Goose, Red Riding Hood and Dick Whittington were some of the most popular stories of this era.