Has Christmas shopping left your wallet feeling a little light? Want to take the family to a pantomime but can’t get tickets to the King’s big-budget version?
Well, if you’re prepared to sow some magic beans and climb the beanstalk to Musselburgh, you could be in for a treat. So before we get to the good bits, let’s dispense with the awkward parts first, shall we?
OK, so the Brunton’s annual panto lacks glitzy razzmatazz, and there are no ‘star’ names adorning its publicity posters. But so what? What is does have, however, is great chemistry between the actors, an explosively colourful set and a writer/ director (Still Game’s Mark Cox) who knows how to tick all the right boxes. Indeed, to pack all the singing, dancing, romancing and laughing into 100 minutes without losing anyone’s attention or slowing the story up is no mean feat. Oh, yes it is!
Set in the Honest Toun, one or two local references might go over the heads of those who live several EH postcodes away, but what JATB really has going for it is the ability to entertain both kids and adults alike. Politicians get it in the neck (as did the East Lothian councillors in the audience), TV adverts are parodied, and there’s the obligatory (Musselburgh) mash-up of Pharell Williams’s Happy.
The highlight: the baddies’ skipping-rope/ taking selfies routine with Jack’s cow, Jean.
James Rottiger displays the right amount of boyish enthusiasm as Jack, whereas Kim Shepherd (Princess Eva) proves why she’s a top, in-demand singer. Rodney Matthew does a fine turn as the Giant (“an inflatable Ed Sheeran”) and High Road’s Shonagh Price has the most infectious laugh as the cheeky Fairy.
Richard Conlon and Mark McDonnell, meanwhile, pair up well as the dumb (Cronk) and dumber (Squelch) bad guys, but top props goes to Robert Read, whose presence, comedic timing and quick wittedness makes for an excellent Mammy. The kids who make up the chorus can be proud of their moment in the spotlight, too. Overall, then, a fine, Honest effort well worth your magic beans.
• Run ends 3 January