ONE OF THE great joys of the panto season is the opportunity it offers to combine a universal story with a completely local setting; and if there’s one theatre in Scotland that has never forgotten that simple truth, it’s the Brunton at Musselburgh.
Venue: Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
Rating: * * * *
Review: Joyce McMillan
Thanks to an investment, a decade or so ago, in a set of gorgeous fairytale-style backdrops evoking familiar local settings – the High Street, the Tolbooth, the old bridge over the Esk – the Brunton pantomime never seems in a danger of losing its local roots; and although the theatre’s panto-maker Liam Rudden has moved on to Dunfermline, the tradition he helped to develop there is still flourishing.
So this year, director Tim Licata takes Philip Meek’s bright-and-breezy recent version of Puss In Boots, and turns it into a tale about how the Honest Toun is under siege not only from Rumbletum the Ogre, who eats his own weight in tattie scones every day, but from his ghastly mum, Wysteria the Witch, who wishes to realise her dream of power by marrying the local monarch, King McMuckletts. Her dastardly plan is thwarted by Dame Doris Dimple of the local mill, her two useless sons (plus cat), and the lovely Princess Fiona; but not before the Brunton has served up its usual evening of glorious family fun, featuring a fine traditional Dame (Stephen Docherty as Doris), the most joyfully glamorous villainess in Scottish panto (Isabella Jarrett’s Wysteria), lots of fine supporting song and dance from a team of six local youngsters, and a few killer versions of familiar songs. “Ladies do it, gents do it, even people from Tranent do it!” sing the cast, in their East Lothian take on Let’s Fall In Love; and the audience laugh fit to burst, and cheer them to the echo.