This year marks Allan Stewart’s thirtieth appearance in the King’s Theatre panto and Andy Gray’s return after a year away due to illness. Together with Grant Stott, they make up a formidable, warm and very funny trio – one the audience was thoroughly delighted to see reunited for 2019.
The show, directed by Ed Curtis, could be described in two words – tropes and spectacle. Although presented as a take on the traditional children’s story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, it actually has more in common thematically with The Greatest Showman or Barnum, proffering an abundant opportunity for circus performances. We enjoy juggling, acrobatics, tight-rope walking and best of all, a heart in the mouth coup de theatre section from the Berserk Riders, in the Motorcycle Globe of Death. It’s all slightly terrifying, but a truly exhilarating ride – literally for those doing 60 mph on stage.
The story follows Goldilocks and her parents, who own and run a big top circus, while the antagonist (played by Stott in his ‘baddie’ role) tries to steal their main attraction – three talking bears from Fife. As always, there’s plenty of lovely local satire written to keep both kids and adults entertained. Perhaps the overly frequent hibs-hearts references become a little tedious, but then it’s part of the schtick, along with the annual song, and well-rehearsed moments where the cast pretend to get bits wrong.
Gillian Parkhouse (whose credits include Judy with Renee Zellweger) personifies stereotypical youthful feminine perfection as the title role, while River City’s Jordan Young does a great job of engaging younger members of the audience as Joey the Clown. But it’s Mike Coltman’s dame costume creations that end up stealing many a scene, along with the comedy from the faultless veteran panto trio. Some of the songs in the first half lack the pizzazz of previous year’s panto singalong fun. But the second half doesn’t disappoint and includes an effective cover of The Show Must Go On, along with the usual fantastic sets and lighting effects.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears is expectedly funny, joyous, irreverent and silly, a wonderful night out for all ages. The King’s has developed a top team for this annual festive fixture. And as a result, it’s probably one of the best pantos in the UK – reflected in the fact that tickets on prime nights sell fast and well in advance.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears runs at Kings Theatre, Edinburgh until 19th January 2020