Ricky McWhittington

Tramway/ various venues across Glasgow

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Mary Brennan, four stars

Dick Whittington, you’ll remember, hit the road to seek his fortune. Ricky McWhittington – his Glesca’ incarnation – has returned home, still skint... so he’s bundled up his mammy, Senga, some chums (and a rank, mega-ponging Queen Rat) and they’ve all hit the road with a touring panto that is a total stoatir. That old mantra “two planks and a passion” sums up just how resourceful and spot on this production is. Brian Hartley’s nifty set design is a single painted flat that opens out from the Allbuttons sweet-shop to onboard their boat - colourful, attractive and portable. He then goes to town on the costumes, where there are visually clever details at every turn - this might be a low budget affair, but there’s been no scrimping on imagination. Or on the calibre of performances, either.

Steven Rae’s Senga sashays on with a well-judged nod and a wink towards the saucy vulgarity that is a cheery-cheeky hallmark of an Alan McHugh panto script. This garrulous dame is in lust with her employer, the upstanding Marmaduke Allbuttons (Josh Whitelaw), and what fun we all have as Senga turns on the vamp and camp to get her man. Melody Allbuttons would love to tell the mildly gormless Ricky (Sam Willison) how she feels, if only she wasn’t so bashful and tongue-tied. It’s Fairy Gallus Alice to the rescue! Queen Rat (Esme Bayley, a classily malevolent rodent) must be defeated so this breezily gung-ho Fairy (Sarah McCardle) turns Melody into a kung-fu Kitty Cat. Both sides to Melody are engagingly captured by Christina Gordon, who switches from sweetly shy girl to confident, can-do miss in the blink of a costume change. Director Bill Wright’s hour-long version of this panto simply crackles with big-hearted energy – it’s at Platform, Easterhouse from Tues 19 to Sat 23 December.