THE RIDDLE OF THE ENCHANTED BELLS
Clyde Theatre, Glasgow. Until Saturday 5 Jan.
There are two ways to look at pantomime. One: objectively as an adult. Ortwo: pile onto a bus that whisks you away lrom school, light over who gets the back seat, charge into the theatre, try and sit next to your pals, and settle back tor a lesson-tree altemoon. Ol course, I opted torthe second one, though i got thrown oil the bus.
Wildcat’s Clyde Theatre on a grey November altemoon had temporarily become an evacuation centre tor local schools trying to escape the Christmas blitz, but the evacuees seemed determined to enjoy it. They were not to be disappointed.
The Riddle ol the Enchanted Bells is a clever blend at traditional, lancllul tale without the leading girl-in-a-boy’s costume hang-up oi the city centre theatres. Co-author Dave Anderson has a greattime as a Barras patter-merchant caught up in the mayhem with the twins Betwixt and Between, played with suitable verve by Tania Greer and Craig Fisher. What the audience enjoyed ‘best at all’ was the chance to heckle Juliet Cadzow’s reptillian wicked queen: ‘Shut up you, you’re a t’ing rotter’, etc. Settled in their home tor a long run, Wildcat have indulged the opportunity tor lavish sets and costumes to the toll. A magic carpet, llying birds and a laceless monster provided an imaginative procession ol spectacle that kept young bums on the edge at, it not oil their seats.
The production’s greatest strength is that it successlully steers a steady course between outmoded traditions and the strongest heirlooms ot the
genre that children still relish. Turtle Count: One. Cross Dressing: till. (it. P . rsons) 1‘
5., 1' ‘ I
The Palace Theatre, Kllmamock. Until 29 Dec.
Those who thought that it was impossible to inject any novelty into the panto lormat are in tor a shock it they go to Kllmamock. All the old lavourltes are here -the more evil than evil Abanazar, the tlamboyant Dame, even the rather shambolic style ol proceedings whereby more laughs are gained trom mishaps (pulls ol smoke tailing to pull, accidental trips lrom the chorus line, etc) than lrom jokes.
But alongside these Christmas season regulars, Aladdin manages a surprise. Porthe principal boy appears on stage equipped with a violin which accompanies her throughout the perlormance and which is liddled in the most bizarre circumstances. Down in the cave, when some convincing ghoolies and ghosties swirl around, our hero trightens them oil with a law screeches. In the love duet, Aladdin accompanies the princess’ rendition ol Take My Breath Away. At Twankee’s laundry, the washing ls perlormed alongside a square dance with you've-guessed-lt providing the music.
Aladdin is played by Karen Hunter who trained as a violinist at the BSAMD and whose quality in that sphere is undeniable. And overall, the same goes torthis show. Denny Willis’s Dame costumes are tabulous and will run rings around many bigger budget pantos. Johnnie Adam as Wishee Washee manages just the right level at hyper-activity to keep the kids interested without infuriating the adults. The numbers are well choreographed and joyously played by the hand. It’s a tun evening and, who knows, maybe Miss Hunter’s violin
may soon join the ranks at those strange panto traditions.
Turtle Count: One.
Cross Dressing: Plenty.
Wildcat solves the Biddle ol the Enchanted
I I I I "I ‘.
Mother Goose makes cakes at the Citz
Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow. Until Sat 19Jan.
From Mother Goose’s rosy cheeks to Squire Bagshot’s cardboard submarine, there’s a cartoon storybook quality to Stewart Laing’s panto design. Rich in bright primary colours and tree with the polka-dots, the set marks its dimensions with precision and throws out the characters like ligures in a pop-up book.
But lorall its visual allure, Mother Goose plays down its cartoon brashness in lavour at a squeaky-clean veneer. Myles Budge’s rhyming-couplet script has all the requisite panto devices- the slapstick cake-baking scene, the sing-along spell song, the Dame’s set-piece stand-up routine — but little of the wit and rough charm to bring them back to lile. The ten actors invest bags oi energy and radiate enthusiasm, but as the production cracks along, they get scant opportunity to really enjoy themselves.
Director Giles Havergal keeps the pace last, sometimes at the expense ol clarity, but it does at least stop the kids lrom getting restless. What’s strange in a theatre where camp is almost a house style, is how little room the actors have to go over the top. Jim Byars' Squire comes closest with his Kelvinside tilt and purple outtil, but Billy Riddoch as Mother Goose in particular, is given insulticicent space to llex his muscle.
Julie Miller’s Principal Boy is coniusingly ieminine in appearance and the romantic interest, like much of the plot, is only pencilled in. But the cast papers over the gaps and it’s impossible to truly dislike a production with highlights that include a presumably double-jointed David McKay as Priscilla, the heart-breakineg llutty goose, and a team at dancing penguins at the South Pole.
Turtle Count: One. Cross Dressing: Yes. (Mark Fisher)
Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow. Until Sat 9 Feb. An unexpected spin-oil lrom the Pavilion’s healthy receptivity to new talent, is the number at jokes they manage to squeeze out ol the name at Funny Farmer Stu Who? From the moment he arrives on stage in a Tardis as Barron Who?, his moniker gives rise to a primordial procession ol playground puns. Unlortunately, he doesn’t get too many ol the laughs himsell, but he does a line job oi looking cool and pulls oil a neat Blues Brothers number midway through. Also lrom Glasgow’s alternative comedy scene, come Clare Hemphill as Prince Charming’s side kick, Dandlnl, and Kate Donnelly who, as the Baroness, kicks oil with a phenomenal tongue-twisting entrance speech,
56 The List 7 — 20 December 1990