Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
It’s late December and it’s time for another panto from the King’s Theatre…
Oh no it’s not! Because of course, the Old Lady of Leven Street is closed, awaiting its much heralded refurbishment, so this time the regular crew have relocated to the Festival Theatre, a much bigger space, but one that they fill with their usual raucous aplomb. This year’s panto is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which has a more complicated plot than most. Perhaps with this in mind, the set designer has usefully created a hi-tech ‘magic mirror’ which offers us a lengthy preamble to set the scene. Unfortunately, a bunch of latecomers troop across in front of me during this sequence, so I’m left to figure things out on that score.
As usual May (Allan Stewart) is the absolute star of the show (she’s a Nurse this time around). Stewart has his persona fine-tuned to perfection, skipping around the stage in stilettos while offering perfectly-timed put-downs. Grant Stott eschews drag and plays it straight as the evil Lord Lucifer (the clue’s in the name), currently trapped in the magic mirror and hoping to gain his release with the help of the wicked Queen Dragonella (Liz Ewing). Jordan Young returns as Muddles, and has his physical routines down to a T. Muddles, of course, is in love with the Princess Snow White (Francesca Ross), but she only has eyes for the handsome Prince Hamish (Brian James Leys). Meanwhile, Dragonella’s daughter, Princess Lavinia (Clare Gray), is having second thoughts about being such a thoroughly bad egg…
Look, with these pantos, the plot hardly matters. They are really just an excuse to have a fun time, and it’s clear from the exuberant reception as the curtain goes up that the audience has a lot of love for these seasoned performers and are ready to shout ‘It’s behind you!’ and bellow their best boos every time Stott stalks onto the stage. There’s the familiar check list of sure-fire comedy routines, some new additions (Stott’s song about the Edinburgh trams goes down a storm), plenty of references both topical and regional and, naturally, there are seven talented (and brilliantly costumed) dwarfs – with Kyle Herd even doubling as Nicola Sturgeon for a dance routine.
I laugh, I clap, I cheer, I boo and I genuinely have a great time with this charming production. They’ve started somewhat later than usual, so those who want to grab a generous helping of Ho, Ho. Ho! should book early to avoid disappointment. The show’s on until January 22nd, so come on, what are you waiting for? It’s not Christmas without a good panto.
(And the first person to say “Oh yes it is” will be politely asked to leave.)
Merry Christmas everyone!