A BLAZE of fluorescent colour, an avalanche of rude jokes – and yes, it’s panto time again; or at least, it is in the mythical land of Stirling Stella, always first out of the late-November blocks with another super-smart MacRobert panto by the inimitable Johnny McKnight.
Theatre review: Rapunzel – A Hair-Braiding Adventure, MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling ****
This year, McKnight not only writes and directs, but stars as outrageous sexy dame Dolly Mixture, who with her slightly useless son Tenpee Mixture runs a Stirling Stella hair salon.
What Tenpee doesn’t know, though, is that he has a long-lost sister, stolen long ago by wicked Goth witch Gothel, and now imprisoned in a tower. And so the story of Dolly and Tenpee collides with the fairytale of Rapunzel, opening the door to a riot of bonkers adventures which strangely fail to involve Dolly’s hair-cutting skills, but do feature the arrival of the flouncy but passionate Prince Rocco (Keith McLeish, in fine form), and a poignant sub-plot involving the unrequited love of Rocco’s devoted servant Goonifer.
In his 14th year at the MacRobert, McKnight presides over a vintage ensemble panto this time round, featuring his now regular team of Robert Jack as daft laddie Tenpee, Helen McAlpine as villainess Gothel and Katie Barnett as Goonifer.
And as ever, the MacRobert’s two15-strong teams of young performers – led by dance captain Chloe Adele Edwards, with fine choreography by Karen Martin –play a key role in driving the performance along, in a classic McKnight panto where the relationship with current popular culture is never less than intense, and which even features a dance number that dares to sum up the history of the last 20 years of pop, in five solid-gold minutes. Joyce McMillan
MacRobert Centre, Stirling, until 31 December