JOYCE MCMILLAN on SLEEPING BEAUTY at the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, for The Scotsman, 4.12.13.
3 stars ***
PANTOMIME STORIES resemble each other in lots of ways, from the Dame and the pretty heroine to the essential happy ending; but in truth, they are not all the same. Jack And the Beanstalk and Cinderella are both about poor folk triumphing over tyrannical power. Beauty And The Beast and Mother Goose are about good looks, and how they are only skin deep. And the Sleeping Beauty – well, it’s such a simple tale of good triumphing over mindless evil, in the shape of the bad fairy Carabosse, that it often needs to be linked to another fairytale to spin a panto out to its full length.
It’s perhaps because it’s based on one of panto’s least substantial stories that this year’s bright, breezy show at the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh seems a little less dramatic and memorable than usual, although it’s never short of cheerful humour. In a swift couple of hours – scripted by Philip Meeks, with additional material by the Brunton Dame, Robert Reid – the panto offers up a pretty Princess in Kim Shepherd, Isabella Jarrett in a fierce black wig as Fairy Nightshade, the great Michael Mackenzie as King Pinkie, and Robert Reid as a buxomly gorgeous Queen Ruby, whose litany of past local romances – East Lothian Men, sung to the tune of Those Were The Days – is one of the highlights of the evening.
If the Brunton’s strong local references are all present and correct in Tim Licata’s production, though, the traditional panto slapstick looks a shade awkward, lacking in rhythm and relish. And despite some terrific, spirited work from the Brunton’s regular chorus of local kids, this is a panto that delivers a jolly evening of unpretentious family entertainment, without ever really pulling out all the theatrical stops, or going that extra mile, from Musselburgh along to Prestonpans.