Edinburgh Fringe 2021
The story goes… that once upon a time… a mother was struggling to give birth, her husband called upon help from a handily placed wicked sorceress. She helps out but takes the baby in payment. Wishing not to lose the baby herself, this sorceress hides her in a tall tower for 16 years until a handsome man, here by the name of Sam, along with his more simplistic wee brother, Ramsbottom, combine with Dame Donuts, to get her out of the tower. All he needs is for her to let down her golden magical hair and get them round. Despite the use of a Doom Box, the goodies beat the baddies and turn the baddie into a goodie and all live happily ever after. Or so we are led to disbelieve.
There is absolutely nothing new in panto. And this is true here. The direction is slick, the acting is good and the lack of any ability to use the technology in a black box, with lighting, having been lost -we are in the open air in a car park – means that this wholly depends on the team onstage getting the rest of us onside and part of their team.
This is managed fantastically well.
Some of the usual panto tropes are there – dodgy toilet jokes, a silly person who acts the fool without much acting, the love interest between boy and girl, a wicked sorceress who gets defeated and jeopardy with a maw who just wants her wean back. And it works.
The audience applaud, they enthusiastically join in, the kids boo and hiss and rejoice by the end. Despite all of the barriers to making this happen – being half a mile up high from the kids and the aforementioned lack of theatrical magic, there is hardly a foot put wrong.
And ain’t we delighted to see it.
The minor ailments from which it suffers – why is the Fairy dressed as a skunk and halfway through they talk of STARTING their journey and the interplay between them is sometimes a bit less than well written, but it is panto.
Scotland has a tradition of summer panto that is long and goes back to the days of theatres needing an earner to get them through the summer. It saved many a theatre’s bacon. As we end the pandemic, this is quite an apt metaphor for the times we are in but it is also a great advert for brining that tradition back – oh yes it is!