20 OCTOBER 1984, Page 23

Pantomime production

Sir: When Rodney Milnes began saying in his review of Turandot (Opera, 8 Septem- ber) that it was 'customarily staged like some ghastly Christmas-tide provincial Aladdin', I was expecting him to go on to, say that the recent effort at Covent Garden Was no exception. So I was doubly horri- fied to read what turned out to be nearly a raving review. Mr Milnes's eyes must be raving myopic. I have never seen such a Pantomime of a production. The night- mare soon began in the first act when some sort of ghastly Fu Manchu wheelbarrow rolled on to the stage — like something out of Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. The second act was no better: right at the beginning, poor Ping, Pang and Pong were made to slither up and down a pavilion so badly made that it was shaking like a jelly in a high wind. Then the Eight Wise Men (obviously not very wise) were made to carry across the stage (front and back, so that we were all astonished to see the supporting bamboo shoots) the scroll, which was a piece of cloth with such kitsch designs that it could scarcely have been found in a John Lewis remnants sale. But what 'really went beyond operatic ■ ,.......,decency was in the last act, when the maidens, out of their un-Chinese' kimonos, floated in in their bikinis. My brows were bedewed with utter embarrassment. My companion and I had to make a beeline for the exit just before the lights went up lest we had to admit openly that we stayed until the end. All the applause, as we were scuttling off, was obviously from the usual ignorant lot who only had money. But in any event, Mr Milnes evidently did not spot any of the ghastliness — I must give him the name of my oculist.

David Tang

2 Clarence Terrace, London NW1