Bob Carr’s Ugly Sister Whoever had the idea of casting Bob Carr in the role of Ugly Sister deserves an extra-large stocking from Santa this year. in true panto style. Carr. a spluttering hulk of a man. is so wrong he's right. We‘ve seen his feeble angelic streak wheedle its way to the fore in his previous comedy work. notably with Edinburgh‘s Royal Lyceum. but Robert Carr in a dress is an altogether new experience. Welcome the 21st eenturydame.

A noticable improvement on last year‘s entertaining panto by the same team. this Cinderella presents a double transformation: both Cinders and her Prince Charming (reworked as pop idol Troon Colquhoon) have repressed alter-egos that only reveal themselves before the bells of midnight at the ball-cum-rave. But for all the street-wise and politically correct up-dating. there's nothing self-conscious about Forbes Masson‘s script: it‘s just a joyful. playful romp with elaborate puns. traditional slapstick and requisite gaps for audience participation.

Masson‘s score is particularly strong (although the sound mix is a tad restrained). switching styles from Troon Colquhoon‘s high-energy theme tune. to 20s crooning. Madonna-esque pop and romantic ballads. squeezing in an end-of- the-pier reworking ofthe lrn Bru advert song for good measure. Early timidity in Michael Boyd‘s direction is soon shaken off in a streamlined panto which the able cast enjoys just as much as we do.

Happy ever after. after all. (Mark Fisher) Cinderella, Tron Theatre. Glasgow. until Sat QJan.


weans and beasties

Mark Fisher compares

. three children’s Christmas

: shows in Edinburgh.

Having decided that you don‘t want

to take Little Treasure to one of the

, big and brash up-town pantos (that's a night out you'll reserve for yourself). you‘ll find that Edinburgh ' is particularly well—served for

" Christmas shows. The key decision rests on whether Little Treasure veers towards the urban sci-fi of Communicado's Crying Well. the

§ lavish and boisterous fairy-tale of the

Royal Lyceum‘s Beauty and the Beast or the pacey adventure ofTheatre Workshops The Skelpin' Wean. Billed as ‘a play for children', Crying Wolfwins full marks in the design department. Gordon Davidson‘s set. framed by vandalised car adverts, splices the Assembly Rooms Music Hall in two with a scaffolding structure that allows high-level chases and underground escapades. all the while reminding us ofthe unnatural brutality of the man-made environment. Playwright Gerald Mangan’s theme is just such an environmental one; he doesn’t ram home the message to the detriment of the story, but it’s clear that the baddies are the car-driving exhaust-fume freaks, and the goodies are the forces of nature


Communicado's tying Well

trying to reclaim the planet. Mangan saves himselffrom being overly-worthy by the wit of his writing and the macho fierceness of his characters, though he wades into murky Oedipal waters when his young heroine narrowly avoids murdering her own father. This

t scene is symptomatic of a play that.

despite the final family reunion, is too grittily realistic, too cynical, to produce the kind ofwarm-hearted response normally associated with shows ofthis type.

It‘s partly the Music Hall’s poor acoustics, exacerbated by the muffling effect ofcrash helmets, but little ofthe play‘s humour hit home to the attentive. young teenage audience on the afternoon I saw it. I suspect that it‘s one of those plays for which Little Treasure has to be exactly the right age, not a day older, not a day younger. for it to work at its best. The danger is that anyone else will find it either soppily childish or terrifyingly brutal.

Stuart Paterson’s Beauty and the Beast does the best job at appealing to a wide age-range. The Royal Lyceum has established a reputation for good-looking, tightly-crafted

children’s entertainment that allows for booing and cheering, but doesn’t resort to throwing sweets. I didn’t see this show when it was first staged a few years ago, and I happen to prefer last year’s Shinda the Magic Ape, but its revival is more than justified. Mixing elements of King Lear (three daughters and an aging father) and Macbeth (the witches) into the traditional morality tale, Paterson creates the kind of child-centred battle between good and evil that lies at the heart of so much good children’s theatre. The twitchiness of Eric Barlow‘s Lord Beastiebasher irritated me, but there were faithful performances from Maria Miller as Beauty and Nicola Grier and Andrea Hart as the bolshie sisters. For the slightly younger child,

Louise Ironside’s adaptation of Sid Fleischman’s The Whipping Boy as The Skelpin’ Wean makes a virtue of a relatively low budget with an imaginative, exciting and scarey narrative that cracks along for an absorbing 75 minutes. As in the other two plays, the heroine is a put-upon little girl who changes the world through the power of goodness and honesty. The task for Shonagh Price’s plucky Jemmy is to drag the ill-natured Prince Horace (Douglas Irvine getting the right balance between unpleasantness and comedy) on a journey of self-discovery through the shifting cones of Rona Munro McNicol’s set; now forming looming trees, now treacherous sewers, now celebratory funfair. The well-behaved audience on the day I saw it was thoroughly captivated, and I can’t deny that everything from the creative use of percussion to the unnerving invasion of the rats had me enraptured too. Crying Wolf, Communicado, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, until Thurs 24 Dec.

Beauty and the Beast, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until SatZJan. The Skelpin’ Wean, Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh, until Thurs 24 Dec.


i According to the translators of Fifth ; Estate’s anti-panto Christmas offering, 1 ‘Goldoni has been called the Italian 3 Moliere.’ Don’t believe this, as Goldoni i has neither the virtuoso plotting northe ? witty panache of the Frenchman, and if i anything, suffers from such 2 comparisons. ; Nor are we allowed to reap what ! benefits might accrue to such dramatic % simplicity, as during the first two : scenes the criminally small audience 6 was unhappin marooned in that Q linguistic Atlantis where ‘Acht richtan i feart troon moir’ is the currency of '2 everyday conversation. 5 Whether this is an attempt to stress some form of ethnic purity at Summit 5 time orthe belief that ye olden days 1taikeisinnatelyfunny,l'm not sure, but 1 maybe its time the term ‘multicultural‘

got translated too.

It is, however, in the parenthetical

business surrounding the main play that the production scores, through the joie de vivre generated by actors obliged to double-up roles and cross-dress. For what claims to be an alternative to ‘zip-up Christmas shows’, the production shamelessly nicks the ad-libbing and immediacy of panto to achieve its ends. But when it’s mixed with impressive acting, sharp direction and a boldy imaginative yet coherent design, who cares? (Stephen Chester)

Where Love Steps In, Netherbow Theatre, Edinburgh, until Thurs 24 Dec.

m DICK wmrrmeron

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh. Until Sat 13 Feb.

Yes, so the songs are corny and the double-act has possibly the most banal catch-phrase ever conceived, but the team at the King’s just knows how to put a panto together, and skating

through three hours of this stuff is what it does best. Terry Parson’s designs are another sumptuous feast of colour-coordinated glitz, the variously-attributed script satisfies the EC quota for cheap gags, and everyone’s ltept happy from the five-year-old up on stage to the OAPs on the front row.

Compared to the pzazz of last year's MacLean/Kelly ticket, this season’s romp is a little low on larger-than-lile characterisation, but smaller-than- most Eric Cullen compensates by packing in as much energy as the rest of the company put together. The other highlight is Allan Stewart as the principal boy, managing to avoid the mawlrish, whiter-than-white pitfalls of the part and tuming in a couple of entertaining set-pieces to boot.

it you’re not inclined to talte the train through to the King’s in Glasgow, this is the best-value, traditional spectacle Edinburgh-dwellers will find. (Mark Fisher)

The List 18 December 1992 14 January 1993 61