Review: Dick Whittington ****

Dick Whittington EPT. Pic: Comp

Dick Whittington EPT. Pic: Comp

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CHURCH HILL THEATRE

Move over Maisie, there’s a new moggy in Morningside. Tail-carrying cat, Tom, and his master Dick Whittington are about to set off for London. However, with toff Boris Johnson acting as Mayor they’re about to discover its streets aren’t exactly paved with gold.

So begins Edinburgh People’s Theatre’s 65th Christmas show – an epic, surreal journey that takes you from Lancashire to Morocco via more sets than Wimbledon and more costume changes than an infant in potty-training.

Puns are (literally) spewed out at every opportunity, some occasional gags are as ill-fitting as Dolly Dumpling’s dresses, and rarely has so many tots become so emotionally involved in a panto: to the point where it seemed they would gang up on the evil Queen Rat (performed too well, perhaps, by Lyzzie Dell) and take her out themselves. The laughs, to be fair, are in plentiful supply. Aided (in last night’s case) by a group of vocal hecklers at the back of the hall, it proves getting involved makes for a better show. Nevertheless, those scurvy sailors, Graham Bell (Scupper) and Matthew Sielewicz (Captain Cuttlefish), deserve their own V show as well as the plaudits for their comedic performance. And if anyone deserves an ovation, it’s Mags Swan (Jack Dumpling), who lifted the whole show, as well as her character’s socks, with some aplomb.

Sadly, some technical issues appeared to blight the audibility of those speaking and singing onstage, but when you consider this was early in the amateur group’s run, those within the 40-plus cast certainly projected themselves well..

At 150 minutes, EPT’s Christmas bash is half-an-hour over-long. It’s mad as a box of frogs, though, and considering tickets are less than a tenner, it certainly beats an expensive trip to see the Krankies in Glasgow.

n Run ends December 28

BARRY GORDON