Review: Goldilocks and the Three Bears - Joey the Clown saves the panto
BRASH, bold and bright, this year’s King’s panto is a colourful explosion of old- school variety that marks the welcome return of Andy Gray, and what a welcome it is.
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KING'S THEATRE, Leven Street
Andy may have been ‘no very well’ but the reaction he received on press night proved he was just the medicine the audience needed.
Set in McReekie’s Circus, the story of Goldilocks is simple - too simple. On its uppers, McReekie’s Circus (run by ringmaster Andy, Aunty May and Goldilocks) must find a star act to ensure their future. Daft Joey the Clown, secretly in love with Goldilocks, thinks that he might be the one, but does anyone else? And can he win the girl?
Meanwhile, rival circus owner Baron Von Vinklebottom, a deliciously evil Grant Stott, is out to ruin them. When the McReekie’s secure the services of three talking bears, he vows to do whatever it takes to steal them away to his own circus...
Gray is a warm, dottily endearing ringmaster and his deft comic timing is a delight to witness. His fixation for words that shouldn’t really be funny, but are when he says them, is infectious.
Playing opposite an on-form Allan Stewart as the much-loved Aunty May, the pair are at their most effective when effortlessly squabbling.
Making his King’s debut as Joey, it’s River City and Scot Squad star Jordan Young who steals the show, however. With an expression for every occasion and top physicality he keeps the kids gee’d up throughout and provides the highlight of the night with a breathless laugh-out-loud recap of the ‘action so far’ at the top of Act Two.
So what’s not to like? Sadly, as Goldilocks, Gillian Parkhouse is reduced to narrating the show and singing a few fairly forgettable songs. Stunning as her voice is, like Stott, there’s a sense both are dreadfully under-used in Alan McHugh’s script - if scripts were porridge this would be thin gruel.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears has always been a notorious title to get right. This version is part music hall, part circus and part panto, with the circus theme milked and used as unnecessary padding in an over-long evening (two hours 20 mins inc interval) - and beware the excruciating and endless juggling act.
The multiple talents of Stewart, Gray, Stott, Parkhouse and Young deserve better, even if they do manage to make a fun night from what they are given to work with.
Runs until 19 January 2020