Dick McWhittington (4 stars)

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, until Sat 30 Dec

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The Pitch All Alice (Katrina Bryan) has ever longed for is Dick. He (Robert Jack) feels some affection for her, too, but he’s got his hands full with his mum (Graham Cramond) who, unusually, has a Pinkie Winkie - Jack’s little brother (Aaron Usher). And this isn’t the only impediment to them getting together, since evil King Rat (Edward Cory) wants to take over Musselburgh, and fill it with parking wardens and teachers. Only Dick, with a bit of help from an incompetent water spirit (Kerry Lyn Hamilton) can stop her. Meantime, he’ll feel better with a bit of pussy, and gets it from Dom, his beloved mogee (Claire Shepherd), who’s also a bit of a martial artist.

The Verdict Given its resources, Liam Rudden, directing his own script, produces a little stormer here. Deftly paced, inventive and packed with incident, this is certainly the best the building has seen since Mark Thomson’s glorious pantos from the days of the house company. There’s plenty of contemporary reference, from a Deal or no Deal parody to a ‘Sheila’s Wheels’ intro for the Dame, and the songs are well chosen favourites well sung. The cast perform with appealing freshness and vigour, with Cramond’s interactive Dame keeping the edge on the innuendo, and Jack’s endearing hero tipping some well timed winks at the audience. Most of all, Katrina Bryan’s cheek-pinchingly winsome Alice is a treat, perhaps the panto turn of the season from a young performer we deserve to see more of.

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