For many people, old-fashioned panto is a creaky anachronism where men dressing as women shouldn’t be that hilarious, baddies are ugly and goodies are pretty, people of restricted growth are clowns and small children are pulled up on stage and ridiculed. It’s all done in good faith and taken in good part. There are many alt.pantomimes around that wear their political correctness Brownie badge proudly. The King’s annual panto is not one of them. Maybe it should have a trigger warning.
That said it’s old school panto with all stops pulled out. The budget must be massive for special effects alone – there are glitter cannons and strobes, dry ice, gobos, a growing beanstalk, the panto dame arriving in a helicopter, chorus boys dressed like the Rice Krispies logo, and a set that’s pure acid house. The sound is enormous too.
Everything expected is here – topical gags (Trump, HoneyG), local references for a local audience, pratfalls and bad jokes often involving farting. For example:
Question: "Who built the Forth Bridge?"
Answer: "I don’t even know who built the first three!"
The show stars the regular King’s triumvirate of Allan Stewart (as Jack’s auntie), Andy Gray and Grant Stott as the Giant's representative on Earth, the radge-meister Fleshcreep from darkest Leith.
And there are favourite songs like “Talk to the Animals" from Dr Doolittle with a very furry cast of backing singers. The Dame comes out at one point looking like a cross between Cruella De Ville and a bumblebee.
“I’m here to save the day and sort out all your problems," says the good fairy (a literally sparkling performance from Lisa Lynch). Responds Jack’s dad: “It’s Nicola!"
So is it any good? Yes, of course it is. Director Ed Curtis has such a sure hand he should be running ScotRail. For very little ones there might be sensory overload and some of the jokes and lyrics get a little lost in the hubbub (if only everyone had the diction of the good fairy) but it’s a hilarious, spectacular, glittering night out for all the family. Oh, YES it is.
Sat 26 November 2016 – Sun 15 January 2017 at 2pm/7pm