BABES IN THE WOOD
Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, until Sat 4 Jan 00
The pitch East Lothian lass Marion has en0ugh to contend with in her Suspiciously virile mother. without having to put up with the advances of sassenach numpty Robin Hood. lost on his way to Sherwood forest. Meanwhile the local wicked witch has disguised herself as the sheriff. and seeks world domination through two rings possessed by Marion’s young siblings. How will it end? Who cares? The verdict The school party which went apeShit for the first half of this piece made it hard to judge the quality. since so showered were actors with boiled sweets and abuse that much was inaudible. The head teacher who read the riot act at intermission seemed to calm them. and certainly scared the hell out of me. Judging from what could be heard though. this Stewart Thomas piece is an inadequate substitute for the Splendid Brunton house company pantos of the past. Overlength is an issue. and some of the comic routines were a little tired. All the same. Kerry Lynn Hamilyon's sheriff combines allure and evil nicely. and Sean Hay's cross dresser brings in some nice touches. (Steve Cramer)
MERLIN THE MAGNIFICENT
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sun 29 Dec 0000
The pitch Orphan bOy Arthur is forced to live in the castle of ginger fat- bastard Sir Hector and husband- beater Lady Baffy. Their son Kay is a numpty and no Chippendale to boot. Arthur and pal Gwen have a hard time of it until the magical Merlin appears to protect Arthur. the boy who WOuld be King. from the clutches of MOrgana the witch. the horriblest old bat since Mrs Thatcher. Can they escape from the witch's forest? You bet your sweet watusi they can.
The verdict Stuart Paterson's tale of magic and British mythology is now in its third decade. and wears well in Kenny Ireland's production. With an elegant design by Gregory Smith. the magic and mystery of a forest full of wolves and eerie monsters is nicely captured. A drny ironic performance from Michael MacKenzie as the eponymous wiz works well with John Kielty's future royal and Carol Ann Crawford's wicked Morgana. My three- year old companion was Spellb0und. (Steve Cramer)
DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS AMAZING CAT
East Kilbride Arts Centre, until Sun 22 Dec .0.
The pitch The feline friendly boy sets off on an ardu0us quest to become mayor of London and save his home town from the evil designs of the big smoke. hotly pursued by his drag- queen mother. Meanwhile. rat-man Rattington's killing all the cats in a sadistic plot to turn London into a rodent-ruled sewage swamp. Can cat Bingo save himself and the day? Here's hOping.
The verdict KYBO Theatre Company's Gordon Munro is delightful
Getting a good Scrooge out of Dickens at the Citizens’
as Dick's coarse and cumbersome mum — the Marge Simpson hairdo‘S particularly fetching — and Raymond Burke turns in a memorable performance as villain Rattington. Local in-jokes. witty media allusions and political puns aplenty will keep the adults amused; but this doesn't (Lilly compensate for the unimpressive set. lame songs and lack of candy. A rejuvenated. Lip-tempo finale invites more involvement though. sending kids and parents alike home happy. (Andrea Harkin)
ALADDIN Gaiety Theatre, Ayr, until Sat 11 Jan 0..
The pitch Pekinese Aladdin, his mother Widow Twankee and duncey brother Wishee Washee (Tony Roper) own a laundry in town. It's a scanty living they earn. Aladdin gets in trouble with the emperor, falls for Princess Tai Lu and is tricked into helping baddie Abanezer find the magic lamp. He's granted loads of cool wrshes by Ali Genie. and there's Chinese whispers of a dOuble wedding for the brothers. The verdict Roper slides smoothly into his well-worn role. bantering away with the crowd. And the impromptu chat wrth fellow panto characters is bloody funny. not forgetting the Harry Potter and Ann Robinson transformations.
All of this almost makes up for the c0untless cheesy song-and-dance numbers and forced dialogue between Aladdin and his lovely princess. Just to count the number of fantastic wig changes. and watch out for the flying eggs. (Megan Kennedy)
SNOW WHITE 8: THE SEVEN DWARFS
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sun 19 Jan 000
The pitch Babe gets cast out of castle by wicked queen and is forced to shack up with vertically challenged Outcasts. Wooed by absurdly cool Royal. and helped by dim-witted butler and nurse who shaves twice a day. she and the persons of restricted growth are bound to triumph.
The verdict Beset with an unwell Snow White and. you suSpect. a script cut for the cloth of the occasion. the King's crew do well in the face of adversity. Dame Allan Stewart's falsetto Singing delights. as does the usual outrageOuS mugging of Andy
Gray. while Briony McRoberts” Slinky evil queen works a treat. Full of contemporary references. cheesy pop and showbiz jokes. the old formula pulls this through. helped by brave young understudy Lindsey Stokes. whose engaging manner compensates for a not overly strong voice. There is also a gratifying lack of the usual reference to Hearts FC. the Motherwell result no doubt inducing silence. It'S a good night out. and is bOund to get better as the run proceeds and normal service is reSumed. (Steve Cramer)
DICK WHITTINGTON Perth Theatre, until Sat 4 Jan 0...
The pitch Ah. isn't everything so much better in London? Well. no it isn't. The streets are paved with rubbish. there's a plague of vicious rats and a greedy merchant‘s set his heart on the position of Lord Mayor (well. he COUld only be more effective than the Current incumbent). As luck w0uld have it. plucky Perth lad Dick Whittington is on hand to right all wrongs. aided by his trusty knapsack. a twinkle-toed pussy and a pair of lethally tight shorts.
The verdict Despite an ever-so- Slightly thin script that picks up pace in the second act. the Perth cast — particularly Alan McPherson as Sarah the cook and Derek McGhie as Idle Jack — plunge headfirst into the daft scenario. adlibbing like mad and interacting with the ‘boys and girrulls' to create a wonderfully infectious. fun atmosphere. Head for the High Street. cos this one's a real Christmas cracker. (Allan Radcliffe)
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Mon 16 Dec cm.
The pitch Knitting ace Jack (Kevin Lennon) is pitted against arch-panto enemy. Boris Bowfing (George Drennan). to avenge the death of his father. spurred on by the usual array of men in dresses (Robert Carr). women in cow costumes (Fletcher MatherS) and fairies on motorised scooters (Carmen Pieraccini).
The verdict Forbes Masson's anti- panto is everything you'd expect from the mind that created Stifff. Mince? and Pants.’ and his diversion from the LiSuaI panto fare is not only welcome.
Christmas shows Theatre
but heartin so. Drennan's Bowfing is genuinely evil. but endearing with it. whilst Lennon. Mathers and Pieraccini bring life to their comedy figure stalwarts. Carr is the most wonderfully dour dame you've ever seen, the impression being that he isn't entirely Sure why he's been picked to wear the frocks — look closely and you'll see his eyes are tinged with real fear. Masson's own songs take the place of pop tunes. but the Show isn't without contemporary references: the Weakest Link spoof. and constant ironic references to pantomime makes this great fun for kids and adults alike. (Gareth Davies)
RUMPELSTILTSKIN Cumbernauld Theatre, until Sat 28 Dec 00..
The pitch Rumpelstiltskin (Tony Ventre) is gathering the ingredients for a magic spell which Will make him all powerful. wreaking havoc on the enchanted forest. In order to avoid punishment. Fiona (Sally Reid) enlists the evil one's help to Spin straw into gold. in return for personal sacrifices of her own. while the forests other residents (Matt Costello. David Jenkins. Sandra McNeeley. Martin Docherty. David Ireland and Isabelle JOSSI deal with their own greed and covetousness.
The verdict Treaties on capitalism and the evils of material wealth can be pretty heavy going. but Simon Sharkey's version of the fairytale puts greed into terms even the kids can understand. though the speed and enthLiSIasm with which they bought copious quantities of tuck in the interval belies the notion that they've taken the message to their hearts. A strong stOry. Slickly paced and divided up with the uSuaI slapstick routines make this great viewrng for all. The cast is strong and draw the audience into the story and action. ensuring no one is left untOuched by their Christmas Spirit. (Gareth Davies)
Byre Theatre, St Andrews, until Sat 28 Dec moo
The pitch A magical firebird (Nicola Filshie) has been stealing golden apples. and Prince Ivan (Stuart Piper) is sent to capture the bird. On his travels. Ivan enc0unters wicked sorcerer Koschei the Deathless (Tober Reilly) and beautiful Princess Vasilisa (Susy Kane). and battles wrth the evil witch Baba Yaga (Claire Knight).
The verdict Breaking away from the traditional mould of Christmas shows. Byre Theatre's presentation of Neil Duffield's adaptation of three Russian folk tales still captures the magic. adventure. comedy and music of the season's theatricals. Directed by Rita Henderson. this show plays to both yOunger and more grown-up audiences. ensuring everyone is entertained and no one is excluded from the proceedings. The whole cast romp spiritedly along wrth the adventures. bringing to life a supporting cast of characters. including a very camp wolf and a malicrous royal Sister. A welcome diverSIon from panto. and great. great fun. (Gareth Davres)
12 Dec 200? 2 Jan 30:73 THE LIST 73