ALADDIN AND THE ENCHANTED LAMP
Cumbernauld Theatre. Until 30 Dec. The actor’s Bible opens with a much quoted, and very sensible suggestion: ‘Never work with children or animals.’ This, as any parent, teacher or zookeeper will tell you, is as sound a piece of advice as you’re likely to gel. Compared to the dreaded panto, adult theatre is a pushover; the audience come in, they look attentive, and they applaud politely at the end. It may all be insincere, but at least they give the cast the chance to concentrate on their work. They don’t swap football cards during the romantic bits.
The same cannot be said of children, which means, of course, that a special effort has to be made to keep the little darlings entertained. Panto usually responds by mixing a simple moral tale with a variety of entertainments: jokes, audience participation and cross-dressing being among the most popular. It might seem like a compromise, but the results, superficial though they may be, are generally satisfactory.
So what happens when a company tries to ‘get serious’? The Cumbernauld Theatre’s version of Aladdin seems to be based upon the belief that children are capable of following, and enjoying, a straightforward plot. The gags and set pieces are not completely absent, but they are played down to an unusual extent. There are no cross-dressers, audience participation is kept to a minimum, and the evil Abanazer plays to the cast rather than the auditorium. At best the results are mixed: yes, the story of Aladdin does probably have more entertainment value than might have been anticipated, but it’s still not enough to keep young minds occupied throughout. (Philip Kingsley)
And no the result of the leadership
Citizens Theatre. Until 20 Jan.
It is probably a bit unfair to compare an institution like the Citizens with the smaller provincial theatres and travelling companies. They have, after all, been the beneficiaries of a considerable amount of financial and
media support. As guardians of the Gorbals’ community spirit, they have been, and can expect to remain, an extremely fashionable outfit. Whatever sentiment that inspires, the fact remains that this company have real quality.
The good news is that they are just as adept with the kids’ stuff as they are with adults: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is quite simply the best pantomime you’ll see all season. It’s not so much that this production is necessarily funnierthan the others, northat the plot is particularly attention grabbing (although it stands up on both of these counts). What really makes this show outstanding is its style —the sets are big, simple and colourful, and they capture that elusive quality of actually being childlike. Combined with some imaginative directing, the overall effect is one of walking into a cartoon,
and every bit as satisfying.
What more can I say? If you do nothing else this Christmas, then at least take the opportunity to see this show. It is quite excellent. (Philip Kingsley)
THE GREEDY GIANT
Clyde Theatre, Clydebank. Until 6 Jan. From the sublime to the pantomime. My day’s entertainment began at the Tramway (thanks to the Tron) and an afternoon sharing in the claustrophobia of Moscow Pushkin Theatre’s unrelenting Ward Number 6, in which the audience sit round like prisoners complicit in the performance’s brutalities, not even being given a chance to clap. Wildcat, not surprisingly, make no such pretence at realism. This year’s pantomime has the requisite quotas of audience participation, unlikely plottwists and song’n’dance numbers.
Not that Anderson and MacLennan’s show isn’t grounded in reality. This particular Greedy Giant goes by the name of Rupert Murder and when he’s not destroying the world’s pine forests for his personal consumption, he’s turning them into newspapers whose mainstay is deceit. Such parallels are not over-stated, but they provide comic amusement forthe adults while the children get on with the more important business of booing, hissing and cheeﬁng.
The production’s main strengths lie in the sets and the songs (with the disappointing exception of a rather lacklustre finale number). Settled in for a six-week run in their comfortable new theatre and for the moment not being hampered by the practical restraints of touring, Wildcat are able to indulge in a series of colourful costumes and atmospheric tableaux. Annette Gillies’ design encompasses everything from an ugly man-sized creepy-crawly to a wild, stormy seascape, taking in a maze of mirrors and the colossal foot of the giant on the way. The songs, meanwhile, are a lively and stylistically-mixed bunch that avoid sentimentality and never outstay their welcome.
The introduction of Robin Hood
towards the end of the show and then Mighty Mouse, a late substitution well into extra-time, are confusing additions to what is otherwise a detailed, but straightforward plot. The show’s joke count— corny or otherwise - is on the low side and it is really the strength of the story and the conviction of the performers that keep it moving forward. Craig Fraser and Tania Grier as the twins, Betwixt and Between, do a fine job at portraying the children without being mawkish or patronising. And one-off highlight is Billy Biddoch swapping roles for a brief appearance as Micky the Aberdonian Monkey who treats the loans and quines to a witty shot of Doric banter. (Mark Fisher)
Eﬁmmﬂﬂlllllllllll MOTHER c.0035
King’s Theatre, Glasgow. Until 10 Feb. This is panto at its most traditional;
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Danny La Rue's family wave to him fromthe stage.
Catherine Howden does herfamous impersonation of Freddie Mercury.
plenty of corny gags, lots of shouting (BEHIND YOU!), and a few celebrities making themselves look silly. It’s a bit like a kids’ version of Seaside Special, only deeper, because it has a moral message as well.
Mother Goose, as if you didn’t already know, is a tale of rags to riches. The Goose family, alias Walter Carr and Gerard Kelly, are broke, and about to be evicted from their home by a penny-pinching squire. Lo and behold, along comes a magical goose, whose abilty to lay golden eggs saves the family from destitution. There is, however, a touch of over-compensation in this change in fortune, and Mother Goose, corrupted by her newfound wealth, trades her pet bird forthe chance to be beautiful. Luckily, a good fairy is nearby, ready to save her from her own folly, and it all ends happily everafter. Meanwhile there is plenty forthe
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SD'I‘hc List 8— 21 Dcccrnbcr1989