Ali Bawbag and the Four Tea Leaves (4 stars)

Double pronged attack on panto at Òran Mór

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Ali Bawbag and the Four Tea Leaves

credit: Leslie Black

This new winter panto comes straight from the sharpened nibs of Dave Anderson and Gary McNair, so the humour is exactly as expected: like the Beano for (almost) grown-ups. Not as overtly satirical as previous efforts, with the scathing polemic dispensed with early on, it's nonetheless performed with a lot of heart. Props go to Anita Vettesse and Frances Thorburn's cheeky social climbing double act, brothers Ali and Frank (glorious harmonies) and their glamour puss wives Davina and Georgina (Dave Anderson and George Drennan, whose harmonies are not) who give, respectively, good deadpan housewife and sexual predator.

Some of the gags are enough to make Julian Clary blush down to his short shorts (one reference to a sexual act is unrepeatable here) but there is enough variety in the pacing and song styles to sustain the deliberately slender narrative. When Ali finds a bag of stolen money, his moral conundrum is not whether to keep it, but rather what tat to spend it on. Cue a bargain bin splurge, a Dick Dastardly-like Drennan in malevolent gangster mode, and plotlines with more holes than Davina's rather fetching fishnets.

Slick it may not be, but it's affectionate and hilarious: the energetic quartet are a nice antidote to all things Krankie or John Lewis this season.

Oran Mor, Byres Road, Glasgow (0141 357 6200) Nov 30 until Dec 23.

Ali Bawbag And The Four Tea Leaves

Òran Mór’s panto for grown-up kids. Written by Dave Anderson and Gary McNair.

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