The Arthur Conan Doyle Society, Mother Goose and Cinderella - Edinburgh Christmas shows round-up
The Traverse, King's and Lyceum present their festive shows for 2012
The Arthur Conan Doyle Appreciation Society
If fairytales, sing-a-longs and grown men in ballgowns are on your festive wish list, perhaps you’d better steer clear of Scotland’s New Writing Theatre this Christmas. Following on from the success of last year’s The Tree of Knowledge, an inspired time-travel comedy starring David Hume and Adam Smith, the Traverse is turning to another of Edinburgh’s most celebrated figures, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who stars in a new play created by anarchic theatre company Peepolykus.
The show, which follows the Sherlock Holmes creator’s interest in spiritualism, reunites writers Steven Canny and John Nicholson with Trav artistic director, Orla O’Loughlin, who helmed their hit show, The Hound of the Baskervilles. ‘Orla seems to enjoy big ideas presented in odd ways,’ says Nicholson. ‘She also loves comedy and she’s not too earnest. Not all directors are like that.’
The writing duo enjoyed revisiting the crazy world of Arthur Conan Doyle, researching spiritualism by visiting Edinburgh’s Association of Spiritualists. The resulting show, which features plenty of seance fun as well as some impressive stunts, draws much of its drama from the tensions in the author’s character. ‘Conan Doyle spent the last 20 years of his life touring the world as arguably spiritualism’s strongest advocate,’ says Nicholson. ‘The creator of the literary world’s most rational and investigative mind promoting spiritualism? There’s surely something for us all in there.’
‘He’s a figure who manages to create a real sense of wonder and awe through both his writing and the way he lived his life,’ adds Canny. ‘He’s full of promising contradictions.’
The pair feel the show offers an offbeat alternative to the usual seasonal fare. ‘It’s not a traditional Christmas offering,’ says Canny. ‘It’s funny and warm-hearted but there’s no dame and surprisingly little cross-dressing. Edinburgh seems to want stimulation and something different in their Christmas entertainment. We hope that’s what we’ve written.’
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 4–Sat 22 Dec.
The world may be changing at a terrifying lick, but at least you always know what you’re getting when you book tickets for the King’s panto.
Proudly traditional in nature the show regularly boasts stunning sets, costume changes galore, great dollops of local humour, sing-a-longs and, of course, the performing dream team of Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott.
This year’s outing is Mother Goose, bound to be well worth a gander, though the story is of secondary importance to Stewart’s perfect parodies of popular TV and music, Gray’s clowning and the relentless lampooning of villain Stott’s beloved Hibs, not to mention his status as the friendly face of Lothian Buses (the ‘pus on the bus’). With enough double-entendres thrown in to keep grown-ups happy, this really is one for the whole family.
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 1 Dec–Sun 20 Jan.
In recent years writer, director and performer Johnny McKnight has dominated the Scottish panto scene like no other. A co-founder of theatre company Random Accomplice, McKnight has demonstrated a gift for the bawdy humour and anarchic style that characterises the best seasonal shows.
Cinderella is McKnight’s first panto for Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum, and it promises a 21st century take on the most famous seasonal tale, complete with original songs by Alan Penman. The story has been relocated to Paris, where Cinders’ idyllic life with her father is interrupted by the arrival of her terrifying new stepmother, Monique, and her two hideous stepsisters. Her only escape comes from lusting after the local handsome prince, and when a glamorous ball is announced that will take place in the full glare of the TV cameras, Cinderella must use all her cunning to attract the man of her dreams.
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Thu 29 Nov–Sat 29 Dec.