SECC CLYDE AUDITORIUM, GLASGOW
Reviewed by Mark Brown
Another year, another controversy for veteran Scottish double act The Krankies early in their panto run at Glasgow’s SECC. Four years ago, their show with John Barrowman was overshadowed by lurid headlines about the married couple, Janette and Ian Tough, having attended swingers parties in the dim and distant past.
This year the spotlight has shifted away from their new co-star David Hasselhoff (playing Hoff the Hook in Peter Pan) due to a racism row. Janette (aka Wee Jimmy Krankie) is accused of giving great offence to east Asian people through her depiction of a Japanese, male fashion designer in the forthcoming big screen version of Jennifer Saunders’s sitcom Absolutely Fabulous.
Tough’s casting has been described as an example of “yellowface” casting of white actors in east Asian roles. The row could prove at least as embarrassing for Saunders, who emerged from the group of politically correct “alternative comedians” in Britain in the early eighties, as it is for the 68-year-old Krankie.
There is something of an irony in this latest controversy, however. While questions are, perfectly reasonably, being raised about “yellowface” casting, little will be said about the parade of dubious Native American stereotypes which, in common with so many British pantos, afflicts this version of Peter Pan.
Race rows aside, the new SECC show is a definite success. Director Jonathan Kiley’s production is tight as a drum, drawing together all of the traditional elements of British variety performance with a brilliant (and genuinely terrifying) crocodile and truly amazing 3D effects (as we take a trip into Atlantis).
Panto may be all about variety for its audiences, but for David Hasselhoff it’s about stubborn continuity. The American is now playing Hook for the sixth consecutive year in an annual tour which began in Wimbledon in 2010.
The Knight Rider and Bay Watch star (who currently has a pronounced limp, on account, he says, of a freak camel accident during a recent filming engagement) is the epitome of 21st-century pantomime irony. Whether singing pop classic Hooked on a Feeling (what else?) or referencing Bay Watch’s obsession with a certain part of the female anatomy, he performs with a twinkle in his eye that seems to reflect both surprise and satisfaction that he’s pulled it off in British panto yet again.
The Hoff and The Krankies are joined by a talented cast including erstwhile Pop Idol star Michelle McManus. It’s a show full of glitz, glamour and high technology.
However, in the end, it’s an old-style music hall routine from The Krankies, complete with double entendres, ad libbing and corpsing, that really makes the show complete.
Until January 3. For further details, visit: http://www.secc.co.uk/peterpan
This review was originally published on the website of the Daily Telegraph on December 16, 2015
© Mark Brown