The news that Johnny McKnight was back at the helm of the Tron panto for 2016 was met with almost universal relief. After a slight misstep last year, Scotland’s king of modern panto is back in Glasgow and The Snaw Queen marks a return to the top-class festive form that audiences have come to expect from the acclaimed Glasgow theatre.
While it may appear from the title that there’s some connection with the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, the reality is an eye-wateringly colourful, glitter-strewn, often incoherent romp – and it’s none the worse for that. Kristine Cagney Kringle and her toy workshop are flat-out preparing for the festive season. However, there’s a magic mirror, that if broken will plunge Weegietown into a Christmas-less eternal winter. Poor sweet Rudolph succumbs to the evil magic of the mirror and transforms into the Snaw Queen (a Marilyn Monroe look-alike in an eye-popping, diamante-strewn, flesh coloured body suit). Kristine, Elvira the Elf and Olive (the other reindeer) embark on an, at times, psychedelic journey to obtain the magic ingredients needed to reverse the spell. Throw into the mix Elvis the Elf, a giant pink bunny, a monochrome My Fair Lady-inspired number set on Glasgow’s infamous underground, an hilarious ‘disco dolly smack down’ and theatrical in-jokes about the National Theatre of Scotland’s James Plays and Broadway blockbuster Hamilton, and you may well get the impression that this isn’t your average panto – you’d be correct.
McKnight is a master of treading the fine line between zany fun for the babes and naughty humour for the grown ups and while it’s mind-bendingly confusing at times, it’s also hysterically funny. The humour never lets up and the sheer energy of the cast drives the action along at a fair lick. Traditionalists will be happy to know that the obligatory sing-along, sweetie throwing and audience harassment are all here.
It may not be the biggest pantomime in town, either in terms of size or budget, but the Tron always punches far above its weight in terms of entertainment. If its kaleidoscopic colour and surreal storytelling you’re after, all with a social conscience thrown in and belly laughs from start to end – then this will be your bag. A riot for the senses and a welcome relief from this grey old world we live in.
Runs until 7 January 2017 | Image: John Johnston