It’s almost as though there are two shows in the King’s latest panto, both representing enormously popular forms of light entertainment. Front and centre are regulars Gerard Kelly (celebrating, as the programme notes, 20 years of togetherness with that wig) and Widow Twanky par excellance Karen Dunbar, with excellent panto newbies Nicola Roy as gobby gal So-Shy and Gavin Mitchell in splendid form as the cackling baddie Abanazar. They’re the heart of the show, turning in warm, appealing and brilliantly dedicated performances rooted in music hall tradition that get the audience shrieking, whooping and singing along.
Unfortunately, the King’s has increasingly started paying homage to the most contemporary form of pantomime, the reality talent show. This year’s nominal hero is Any Dream Will Do graduate Keith Jack, as an Aladdin who seems to be just marking time between bum-numbingly boring ballad numbers. Frances Mayli McCann as love interest Princess Jasmine could possibly be a great performer; as it is she does her best with a part so underwritten it’s limp, and their love scenes suck any joy out of what is otherwise a thoroughly great show. Less of the Cowell-bothering high notes, more Dunbar doing Dolly Parton next year? Please?
King’s Theatre, Glasgow, until Sun 17 Jan