It’s that magic time of year when we theatre critics stop watching plays about middle class people and their problems, and get to watch a man in a dress tell dirty jokes to kids for a couple of hours. Sometimes we even go to the panto!
There is lots of production value on show, and I was pretty impressed by some of the special effects. Clearly a lot of time, care, and money has been poured into the show
The King’s Theatre Qdos panto has become a mainstay of Edinburgh's festive season, with its regular stars Allan Stewart, Andy Gray, and Grant Stott. This year the trio tackle Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Well I say “tackle”; more turn up in a series of comedy vignettes, while leaving Greg Barrowman (as Prince Hamish) and Frances McCann (as Snow White) to deal with all the boring plot stuff. The pair do their best with what little they have to work with. All together there are about 20 minutes of plot to trudge through to get to the good bits.
The seven dwarfs are glimpsed a handful of times and are used to set up some Edinburgh/Scottish based jokes, but mostly the only gag is that they are average-heighted people on their knees. Nothing to write home about, but the actors do seem to be enjoy their time chewing the scenery.
There is lots of production value on show, and I was pretty impressed by some of the special effects. Clearly a lot of time, care, and money has been poured into the show, though there is a magic mirror show casing some fairly dodgy animation, which is at odds with the rest of the production.
Grant Stott’s turn as the Wicked Queen is perfectly fine, but he still lacks the quiet confidence that’s required to sell jokes to an audience when you have a stage to yourself. At the very least there is no stunt casting in sight. (I give it two years till we see Caitlyn Jenner as a Widow Twankey.) Stott certainly seems to perk up when he is sharing the stage with Stewart and Gray. All three have good on-stage chemistry, even if Stott struggles to keep up with the off-the-cuff wisecracks.
Stewart and Gray really bring the show together, and the entire production is a vehicle for their comedy sketches. Their script is solid, but anyone familiar with the vaudevillian standards (or the Marx Brothers) will have heard a lot of them before. The show works best when a trope is turned on its head or when they are forced to go off script.
It's a fine show with a good cast and plenty of production value. And I look forward to seeing the cast in the already-announced Jack and the Beanstalk in a year's time.