Theatre review: Punocchio

The little puppet hero of this year's Oran Mor summer panto has an answer, to any question you might ask him. 'Wooden't you like to know?' he asks, with a giant nod and wink; and so it goes, line after line, in Gary McNair's pun-tastic lunchtime Play, Pie and Pint version of Carlo Collodi's strange tale about the puppet who becomes a boy.

Punocchio proved pun-tastic, the fun flows fast and furiously but in a very short show

Oran Mor, Glasgow ****

Things take a merry turn from the start, with old 
puppet-maker Gepetto replaced by a panto Dame called Jan Petal, played with lovelorn relish by Dave Anderson; she longs for a child, and dotes on Punocchio with an ineffectual passion, while delivering some killer one-line comedy about the current state of chaos in western politics.

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When Punocchio starts to go off the rails, the evil seducing fox is replaced by a posh bear called Bearis Johnson; and the evil ringmaster of the circus where Punocchio is imprisoned and forced to perform is none other than Mr Trumpoli, a strangely blonde evil-doer with no respect for human – or puppet – rights.

To say that the show is brief is an understatement: at barely more than 50 minutes, it’s a good 20 minutes shorter than the usual Play, Pie And Pint panto, with hardly time for any story at all.

Yet the show has a raw, rumbustious energy and talent – and a streak of pure political cheek – that does the heart good; and with Anderson leading a cast that also includes Frances Thorburn, Kirstin McLean and the 
infinitely camp Darren Brownlie, the fun flows fast and furiously – although not, alas, for long.

JOYCE MCMILLAN

Oran Mor, Glasgow, until 22 July.