Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates
‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s panto tiiiime!’ The sense of excitement in the theatre is palpable long before the curtain rises. And no wonder: the dream team that brought us last year’s 3D thriller, Aladdin is about to spirit us off to exotic climes in the company of a gormless local lad and his brassy mother, a mouthy mermaid and a gang of cut throat pirates.
The King’s panto more than lives up to these expectations from the opening scene in which Grant Stott’s Blackheart leads his crew through a swashbuckling routine as their pirate ship pulls into the Leith. Then, an Edinburgh tram descends to the stage bearing panto dame par excellence Allan Stewart, be-wigged and clad in gingham as Mrs Crusoe, who breaks into an infectious rendition of Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’.
The gags come thick and fast in Paul Elliott’s fruitily funny, pacy show, with plenty of local tid bits and topical references thrown in for good measure. The hairy monster haunting mango island turns out to be none other than Susan Boyle; there’s a pair of bungling pirates called Jedward; there’s even a gentle dig at Stott’s Lothian Buses ridacard advertising (‘Oh look, it’s the pus on the bus!’)
The production values are strong, from the singing and dancing of the ensemble to the set design, with some lovely visual gags thrown in courtesy of clown Charlie Cairoli and a stunning underwater sequence created by Safire’s Magic Light Puppet Company. Newcomer Moyo Omoniyi demonstrates a wonderful vocal range as feisty Girl Friday.
But it’s the central performing trio of Stewart, Stott and Johnny Mac as Robinson who really bring the show to life, Stewart bringing a particular warmth and sense of rapport with the audience to his role as Mrs Crusoe. If you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned panto that’ll have you giggling helplessly from start to finish, the King’s delivers on all fronts.
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sun 27 Jan