Roundthe clock pantos

Mark Fisher spends a day at the pantos.

9.5llam ln a vain attempt to emulate a day on the Edinburgh Fringe. I pull into

Glasgow. believing myself tit and ready ;

for twelve hours of non-stop hardcore panto action.

10am And so to the Citizens‘. where Shaun Prendergast's Beauty and the Beast is about to launch into its first performance of the day only eleven more till the weekend. The stalls. however. are empty and the pre-show hell is ringing in a deserted foyer. 10.15pm The coaches from Killearn Primary turn up and the children are filed. shuffled and refiled into their seats. Down go the house lights and up comes Ian Wooldridge's production. flickering into life with a huge black and white film projection of the wicked witch giving it the Bela Lugosi treatment. all evil eyes and heavy make-up. And what a stunningly good production it is.

Helped considerath by Kenny Miller‘s creepy organic design and Gerry ienkinson‘s restrained lighting. \Vooldridge conjures up a brooding Gothic vision of the Beast and his castle. In the darkest moments of conflict between Henry Ian Cusick as the unloved and loveless monster and Emma Dingwall as the innocent Rose. it feels like we're wading in the murky



. ()edipal waters that bubble up into the tensions of sexual politics and the

horror of male violence. The

production can only get to this point.

however. by leading us sure-footedly through the plot. which it does with a

; finesse that holds the young audience

spellbound -— and me equally gripped. By contrast the show's comedy can

seem gratuitous. the cartoon capers too

easily missing the mark when set against the emotional realism of the main plot. There are bubbly performances from Kathryn Howden and Rosaleen Pelan as Roberta and

5 Ruth. ugly sisters worked into the story 3 to frustrate the smooth victory of good § over evil. but this is more of a play than

a panto and i wonder whether even the seven—year-olds wouldn't rather skip

; the lighter moments to get stuck back

into the darker recesses of the story.

12.15pm The nine-year-old sitting next , to me says it was ‘quite good'. Sap that I am. I don‘t think I've seen anything to 3

match it on the Citz mainstage all year.

Beauty and the Beast at the Citz: ‘utterly compelling’

1 leave the theatre an emotional wreck. 1.55pm Having headed out to Paisley

§ Art Centre with eagerness. recalling the

exuberance of last year's panto. I am

i playing an impromtu game of musical ; chairs with the children from St E Catherine's Primary as we try and work

out the difference between row E and row F. i get an ice lolly in the interval as compensation.

2pm David Wallace‘s Aladdin bursts onto the stage with the expected gusto. The actors of Paisley Youth Theatre really are a joyous bunch. showing not just discipline but real inspiration and life. They skirt on and offthe small Paisley stage with energy and precision. having been cleverly worked into the show so they have plenty to

A. contribute even though it is the half- ; dozen professional actors who carry the

story. Wallace himself. this year playing

7 Widow Twankey, is still a thrill to

watch. forming a fast-talking double-

.- act with Stewart Aitken as Wishee

Washee, making it sound like every gag is a new one and judging from the reactions he gets from the other actors many of them are. David Ramsay's songs are appropriately lively and by the time it is halfway through, control of the show has become a running battle between actors and audience. Actors win out thanks to clear plotting, very little time-wasting and sheer energy. it will be a sad day for Paisley if David Wallace ever gets drawn into the big pantos up town.

7.30pm Maybe not so sad for the big pantos up town. however. if John Bett’s lacklustre Goosey Goosey Glasgow is anything to go by. Despite typically professional performances from Andy Cameron and Dorothy Paul, it‘s a superficial panto-by-numbers affair that is careless with the plot a complete contrast to Beauty and the Beast and wastes time with irrelevant songs and even irrelevant characters. Furthermore. it disappoints with comic material that is decidedly thin. For all the lavish sets, the whole thing seems cheap, which is particularly frustrating having seen what Paisley can produce on the smallest of budgets. OK it’s my third show ofthe day and I’m sitting in a section of the audience with an average age of 82, but Goosey Goosey Glasgow depends too much on the complicity of a malleable crowd and is plain sloppy compared to the commitment on show elsewhere. 10.30pm I head home. exhausted. Next stop Edinburgh. And more pantos. Beauty and the Beast. Citizens' Theatre. Glasgow, until Sat I 4 Jan. Aladdin. Paisley Arts Centre. until Sat 3/ Dec.

Goosey Goosey Glasgow, Pavilion Theatre. Glasgow. until Sat 28 Jan.


The Princess and the Pirate belongs to a less traditional vein of pantomime than most. There’s no dame here although you can’t help feeling a cross-dressed Castanette, wife of the wicked governor Esteban, would have enriched this production - and the story has greater depth than you’ll find in more mainstream pantos.

An evil landlord taxes the people into poverty, referring to them constantly as ‘peasant scum’. The returning princess hides her identity in order to

gain the respect of the people and in league with Robin Hood figure El Diablo, leads a rebellion for freedom and equality.

political education for kids is enveloped in Cumbernauld Theatre’s typically brilliant set and costumes and the production makes up in slick professionalism what it lacks in the more outrageous humour of standard pantomime.

Shonagh Price as the princess relishes the somewhat rare experience of a substantial pantomime female lead and is at least as swashbuckling as the sword-wielding, rope-swinging Robin Cameron, alias El Diablo.

Stripped of the high camp and nudge- wink humour of the music hall, this show is proof that children can appreciate the slightly more subtle fun of a more modern pantomime. It also proves panto can fall between the two stools of traditional and

‘alternative’ without being staid or crusty, (Mark Brown)

l m

This excellent little exercise in basic


Seen at the Tramway, Glasgow. flow at Traverse, Edinburgh, until 23 Dec.

A disconcerting, squealing, grunting hulaballoo emanates from beneath a wooden stage - an abattoir creeping with life. This is Nightmare on Pigstreet courtesy of Communicado and Pavel llavrotsky is knee deep in the hell of it all.

Inspired by the true story of a lled Army deserter who spent 41 years hidden in a pigsty, playwright Athol Fugard has written a powerful work that is pertinent to his South African status and has at its crux an examination of the nature of freedom.

As the intense Pavel, Gerry Mulgrew is a convincingly earthy character picking his way through a minefield of

contemplations that veer from the burden of guilt to his purgatory status as a non-human living with the pigs. Ann louise Boss as his innocent and bluntly pragmatic wife neatly deflates this stream of brooding and theological suppositions with her own practical outlook and comic interjections.

Despite having the talented Kenneth Glenaan on board as director, the play takes some time to get into gear and exploit the potential of Fugard’s vigorous Iangauge. Mulgrew in particular is slow to add spark to an initially lacklustre role, though this quibble is null and void when he assumes with frightening gusto the naked, scrabbling figure of a frustrated coward flailing in the midst of the pigsty. '

An impressively physical and mentally stimulating production that gathers momentum by the scene. (Ann Donald)

The List 16 December l994—l2 January 1995 63