SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARVES
KING’S THEATRE, GLASGOW
Reviewed by Mark Brown
No Scottish playhouse says “pantomime” quite like Glasgow’s King’s Theatre. It was at this famous venue that the great Stanley Baxter made the role of dame his own over many festive seasons. The late, and much lamented, Gerard Kelly was a firm favourite of King’s audiences until his untimely death five years ago.
In fact, one can’t help but feel that the Clydeside theatre has struggled to bring some stability to its festive output ever since Kelly’s sad demise. Such talents as acclaimed comedian and singer Karen Dunbar, Gavin Mitchell (star of Scottish sitcom Still Game) and Greg McHugh (aka Gary: Tank Commander) have come and gone, leaving this popular panto with a distinct lack of continuity.
This year the King’s is blessed with a piece of dream casting. Legendary comic actor Gregor Fisher has stepped up to the plate, playing the part of Hector the Henchman, the not-so-evil sidekick to wicked Queen Morgiana in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
Fisher is best known, of course, as TV’s Rab C Nesbitt; a role described by this very newspaper as “the most memorable comedy character Scotland has ever produced.” On stage, he is an actor with the rare ability to make an audience laugh merely by looking at them. Which is just as well given the paucity of good material in the script by writer/director Eric Potts.
Endlessly flatulent and riled by everyone’s rhyming of his name (“inspector Hector”, “protect her, Hector” and so on), the actor is at his funniest when ad-libbing or playing to the familiarity of his alter ego Rab C.
Which is not to say that the show fails entirely. There are fine performances from the likes of established jester Des Clarke (typically spritely as Snow White’s daft pal Muddles) and the ever-excellent Juliet Cadzow, who plays Morgiana, in the Scottish panto tradition, as a posh, English baddie. Likewise Jenny Hayley-Douglas and Allan Jay make for a sparkling Snow White and Prince Lorenzo in the contemporary stage musical mould.
The problem is, Potts has created a panto-by-numbers. Tied to a UK-wide festive formula, his show is less raucous, and with fewer local jokes, than King’s pantos past.
This grand old theatre demands a bespoke pantomime. Sadly, even with the services of Gregor Fisher, this offering just isn’t funny enough often enough.
Until January 10. For further details, visit: atgtickets.com/venues/kings-theatre
This review was originally published on the website of the Daily Telegraph on December 11, 2015
© Mark Brown