Perth Theatre

Mary Brennan


ALL across the pantosphere, audiences are ooh-ing and aah-ing at astonishing special effects and transformations. However, the most amazing transformation at Perth Theatre is the make-over of the venue itself, with the lovingly-restored B-listed Edwardian auditorium now housed in a lavishly-appointed modern building.

There’s some shine on-stage too – coming brashly from the costumes, which favour copious metallic foils, and from a likeable cast who go all out to make this panto match up to the traditional festive treats of previous years. Sadly, it falls short of that mark with a book – written by Joel Horwood, redrafted for Perth by Frances Poet - that, despite repeated shouts of us being in Perthsia, lacks witty-pithy local colour and offers little in the way of really funny bantering patter.

We seem, in fact, to be ‘in da hood’ with even Abanazer (Christina Strachan, in an alarming, muscle-man fat suit) and the Genie (a boiler-suited Wendy Seagar) ready to rap. Like the whole look and feel of the production this comes across as a worried bid to be cool for kids. Meanwhile, Barrie Hunter, one of our most accomplished Dames, seems sidelined by this tack – not that an oddly quiet, if attentive, schools audience was the best springboard for Twankey’s archly knowing humour.

What really clicked was having a feisty Princess Jasmine (Nicola Sawyers) and a smarter than usual Wishy Washy (Tyler Collins) who, between them, rescue Aladdin (Gavin Jon Wright) from an unhappy ending. The long, lanky Collins has a live-wire energy that is so hugely appealing you wonder why Jasmine doesn’t fancy him. The song’n’dance stuff bops along popular lines – Ed Sheeran inevitably in the mix – with local children who never put a foot wrong in a panto that stumbles a bit.