Writer: Allan Stewart and Michael Harrison
Director: Ed Curtis
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
Everyone crack out the checklist: Drag? Check. A medley of creative parodies to famous songs? Check. That disgustingly warm fuzzy feeling? Check. A happily ever after? Check. A child thrown into the orchestra pit? Check… double check… Well kiddies, looks like its Panto time.
What we expect from the King’s panto is that Grant Stott and Allan Stewart (sadly without the delightful Andy Gray) will completely rob the show. This year though, we have an even playing field. This is an altogether team effort of a production. Which isn’t to say that Stewart’s heart, vocals and jokes don’t equally rob as much as Stott’s one-liners, puns and performance. What we have is a show where everything feels streamlined, if a little loud.
The real testament to the power, not only of these shows, of the community surrounding them is despite being: ‘no’ very well’ Andy Gray still garners the largest cheer of the night. His presence, whilst missed has inspired everyone else to push harder in his place.
No one seems to be doing this more than Stewart, carrying many of the scenes we envisage would have also starred Gray. The level of dedication in performance and writing, all whilst giving 110% for the audience is a testament to his professionalism.
Simply introducing the name of Grant Stott’s character this year should give you an idea of how utterly phenomenal he is with the role; Flash Boaby. Each line, every delivery or number just drips with misogynistic machismo. He reminds us that not so deep down no one really wants to be a hero – we crave a villain.
Previously mentioning the collective of the cast, our Beauty and our Beast bring something altogether extra. The Beast, though rage-filled, has a soft touch. Performing the Beast, almost as if he wasn’t in a pantomime is Chris Cowley channeling an altogether sympathetic creature. The makeup involved is extraordinary. Mike Coltman’s costumes, reminiscent of the 1991 Disney film feel familiar but offer just enough to be fresh. Gillian Parkhouse takes a turn with the enchanted rose, leaving her glass slippers behind. Kind, vocally talented and clearly a whizz with a tongue twister she has the glamour of a princess, yet the subtle touches of a sturdy independent woman.
As the rose first floats onstage, a strange ethereal nature draws over this panto-like no other. It’s something Beauty and the Beastretains above most other fairy tales. It has royalty to it, it’s the pinnacle of the fable tree. Both Stewart and Michael Harrison have noted this when writing. Yes, it contains the innuendo, it has flubs, references and boos and hisses. Yet it also has character, heart and genuine awe-moments of emotion.
This gravity-defying rose is thanks to the Twins FX. In what may be the slickest Panto this reviewer has ever witnessed, minus one hilariously un-revolving door has it all. Live transformations, a flying car all sparkled by vivid light displays courtesy of Matt Clutterham (have a look at the John Byrne dome illuminated by rose vines).
Last year, they tried to kill us with laughter. This year, they’re finishing the job. The old jokes return – a shopping cart of food-based puns along with the infamous tongue twister. Which this year, has led to some rather wonderful slipups courtesy of Stott.
Once again, the heart of pantomime lives on in Edinburgh. For too long it has been relegated to a ‘cheap’ view of entertainment. When in reality it takes just as much effort, ingenuity and creativity as a major production. What Beauty and the Beast
Runs until January 20,