Jack & the Beanstalk (King's Theatre) (3 stars)

Gags aplenty in another infectiously fun King's Theatre panto

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Jack & the Beanstalk

Greg Barrowman as Jack and Rachel Flynn as Princess Apricot / credit: Douglas Robertson

The King's Theatre saves endangered panto traditions from extinction year on year: this year's panto dame is the evergreen Allan Stewart as Dame Trot, there's a singalong song 'clout' that descends from the rafters, a dancing panto cow called Daisy and old-fashioned call and response cues into the crowd. While other Christmas theatre shows might have evolved into more issue-led, or tasteful productions, The King's just wants to have a drunken, messy, end-of-year blow-out, with good taste chucked out the neon, flashing window.

With its endless supply of gags about TENA ladies' pants, leaky boobs, fingers up bums and so on, this is not a show looking for highbrow praise; instead it takes a garish, high volume, hyper approach to Christmas fun using an array of props, including an animatronic giant, a helicopter that swoops over the stalls and fluorescent dancing butterflies.

Yes, the Disney singing style is cloying and overwrought, and no, the heteronormative message about marrying into happiness will not be empowering to wee girls in the audience. Still, the trio of Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott at the heart of the show manage, as they always do, to elevate the material into something special – some of the biggest laughs comes from their daft wordplay, a medley of House of Pain and Patsy Cline songs, or their frequent corpsing. As subtle as a punch in the throat, when it's funny, it's as a fun, infectious confection.

King's Theatre, Edinburgh until 15 Jan 2017

Jack and the Beanstalk

The King's Theatre panto features the usual suspects: Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott.

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