Theatre review: Sleeping Betty
David Ireland's more child-friendly fare
Writer David Ireland has issues: specifically, narcolepsy; flatulent hamsters and a leading male character with insomnia. His slight spin on the panto favourite Sleeping Beauty, directed by Kenny Miller, has fun with the format: titular leading lady Betty (a fine Amy Scott) even sings a lament to her underwritten character's propensity for swooning and waiting to be rescued, a neat way to draw attention to the lack of agency in traditional female pantomime roles.
So while this Betty is more pro-active than the usual pink-sporting princesses, the gender reversals continue with Handsome Dan (a wonderfully catty Darren Brownlie) the antithesis of a macho prince. He's a real treat, prancing with his curling moustache and milksop pronouncements. Louise McCarthy, with her excellent comic timing and singing voice, makes for an oddly sexy villain as Fairly Evil, cackling in a black bodysuit like a voluptuous, slightly demented Leigh Bowery lookalike.
The family-oriented gags are good, with Julie Wilson Nimmo's Hamish Hamster full of cute, if spiky, asides. While some of the scenes lack the punch and verbal dexterity of the scripts from last year's Tron panto hero, Johnny McKnight, the show's heart – if not its brain – is always in the right place.