If it’s a big traditional panto with plenty of glitz and sparkle you’re looking for, then Glasgow King’s certainly delivers year on year.
This year’s offering is Jack and the Beanstalk, starring local panto treasures Elaine C. Smith and Johnny Mac, and save for these two local favourites, it’s a minor TV celeb-free zone and all the better for it.
The story largely follows the traditional tale: there’s a huge furry cow, some magic beans, a growing beanstalk, a fabulously realised giant and the requisite evil baddie, some familiar tunes – mostly oldies, there are no new pop hits. It’s re-set to Glasvegas with some familiar local references thrown in and most of the usual panto tropes intact. There’s no slapstick, a tiny bit of audience participation, the dame is a woman, the princess doesn’t need a man to vanquish the foe and proposes to her beau – all a refreshing move in the right direction. It needs mentioning though that a sequence between Mac and Smith incorporating the names of famous chocolate bars, was seen last year almost exactly in Cinderella at the SEC Armadillo.
Elaine C. Smith is much-loved and a solid pair of hands for a production as big as this and Johnny Mac is entirely loveable and endearing as Jack, the audience is onside from his first wide smile. Less effective is Anne Smith as the panto baddie Mrs. Blunderbore, an unfortunate visual joke from Jack about her performance being a bit flat, is unfortunately accurate, and in contrast to her co-stars her costumes are utterly lacklustre – more Poundland than Pantoland.
All in all, it’s exactly as you would expect every year from the King’s – big, bold and beautifully executed. A fine night of traditional entertainment.
Runs until 5 January 2019
Image: Richard Campbell
Originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub
Much-loved journalist and broadcaster Cat Harvey, has her finger firmly on the pulse of West of Scotland woman (and man) in her new comedy play Love Me Tinder.
Exploring the minefield of dating in the 21st Century, it follows the story of a group of Glaswegian workmates who decide to embark on an online adventure in internet romance. There’s career girl Fiona (Cat Harvey) forever single and looking for Mr. Absolutely Utterly Perfectly Right; Nicola (Michelle McManus) the eternal good-time girl who is ready to swap parties for nappies; Cathy (May Miller), married for 40 years to Willie, who has apparently ran away with a 28-year-old Polish yoga teacher; Ryan (Liam Dolan) unaware of his sexual orientation, unlike everyone who knows him; Davie (Andrew Agnew) who is so commitment-averse he’ll date anyone and everyone “from legal to still breathing” and Davie (Johnny Mac) really Cupid in disguise, currently living in Cumbernauld and working his magic from the side-lines.
Harvey has an ear for Glaswegian patter and the naturalistic dialogue certainly strikes a chord with this largely female, sold-out audience. The laughs are sustained from start to end, and it’s no small thanks to a knock-out cast. From local cabaret star May Miller, the epitome of a ‘wee Glasgow wummin’ to TV stalwarts Andrew Agnew and Liam Dolan to panto royalty Johnny Mac and Pop Idol winner and Scottish national treasure Michelle McManus, a woman with the most enviable natural comic timing (and of course, a fabulous voice), each is an absolute gem.
Mac gets the chance to demonstrate his natural comedic talents and his exceptional audience wrangling skills, honed from years as a panto star. His fourth wall breaking turn as Cupid/Danny is warm, good-natured and laugh out-loud funny. As is McManus’ turn as the gobby Nicola. She manages to get the audience in tears with just a look, particularly hysterical is her disgust at Polish yoga teacher Klaudia stealing her big karaoke number, (which in an absolute belter of a theatrical trick) turns out to be McManus’ real-life Pop Idol winning tune ‘All This Time’.
The show is peppered throughout with party hits (you can’t not let Miller and McManus demonstrate what made them famous in the first place) and there’s even a chance for the audience to get in on the act with a rousing rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’.
The path of true love never does run smooth, and so it is here. To its credit there’s also a large dose of reality in the mix to temper the laughs. This is a relatable, realistic portrait of love and friendship in the 21st Century and it’s delivered with real heart and soul. Hopefully there’s more to come from the pen of Cat Harvey.