Penguins, Paris, princesses, and a golden goose called Priscilla are some of the things that begin with the letter P in theatre-land this festive season.
Plus the traditional outpouring of puns, participation, puerile humour, and physical comedy that are par for the course at this time of year.
Yes, performers are pulling on their pantaloons and polishing their patter. Look out behind you! It’s p-p-p-p-p-panto time.
How many p’s, please?
First P is for Puss In Boots performing at the Brunton Theatre on Edinburgh’s periphery from Tuesday 27th (til 5th January, priced at 625p-1,325p). Expect popular panto ingredients of corny punchlines as puss helps the panto dame and her potty son put paid to the wicked witch and ogre to save the pretty Princess. Purr-fect ending promised.
P is for the penguin puppets of Too Many Penguins at the Traverse Theatre (11 Dec–22 Dec, priced at 800p-1,000p). The prize-winner of a CATS award for Best Production for Young People and Children, this panto for the most petite of panto-goers (1-4 years old, to be precise), calls for participation as a pack of playful, polar puppies turn Mr Polaro’s peace into penguin pandemonium.
The King’s Theatre will be pummelling the panto prescription to pieces again with Mother Goose (from 1 December, prolonging to 20th January, priced at 1,000p - 2,750p). No p’s among the prime players, but popular they are in these parts: Allan Stewart as Mother Goose,
Andy Gray as Elvis McSporran, and Grant Stott as Demon Vanity. Expect panto pomp and puffery, painful puns aplenty and, oh yes, a golden goose called Priscilla.
P is for Paris, in the present, where the protagonist pines for her prince (and personal stylist and publicity machine) in the Royal Lyceum Theatre’s appropriation of Cinderella (29 Nov-29 Dec, priced at 900p - 2,400p, family x4 6,600p). Aimed at plus-fives, “the 21st century story of love and loss” is penned by panto pro Johnny McKnight, with songs by Alan Penman (performed live).
Lyceum artistic director Mark Thomson (The Snow Queen; The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) directs the panto premiere complete with jiggery-pokery, a pernicious parent, and pair of pretty-less sisters.
Off the 'eaten Path
P is for re-peat. Polished production values (including unplugged orchestra) and popular plot explain why The Snowman persists at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre post 14 years (13–30 Dec, 1,000p–2,700p). A pyjama-ed boy, a puffy snowman push-off for the Pole to meet with pater christmas. There’s penguins, a pirouetting princess, and even a prancing pineapple in there. A pure and poignant fantasy that warms the heart parts.
Plus, peel your eyes for a new production of popular Sleeping Beauty by purveyor of pulsating performances in pantyhose, Matthew Bourne. With Pyotr Tchaikovsky's pungently precious opus and Bourne's probable gothic panache, the pomo plot ports Perrault’s princess through past periods from the production's premiere in 1890 to the present at the EFT from 27 Nov - 1st Dec (1,600p - 4,250p).
P is for physical comedy group Peepolykus and Premiere (World Premiere that is) with the Traverse Theatre, of pomo Christmas show Arthur Conan Doyle Appreciation Society. The production (6 -22 Dec, with previews 4/5th, priced at 600p - 1,750p) posits Arthur Conan Doyle, a leading proponent of spirtualism, in place with his printed progeny, and most perspicacious of P.I.s, Sherlock Holmes. Starting as a presentation with pictures, the play pulls in a slapstick and farce direction, as it plumbs philosophy, particle physics, phantoms, and post-life problems.
P is for perennial picks from the Scottish Storytelling Centre programme: Tiny Tales, storytelling sans paper with Robbie Fotheringham for 6 months to 2 year olds (11 Dec); Twinkle Bell from Grinagog Theatre for 3 to 6 year olds (22nd and 23rd Dec); and Stories Round the Tree with Tim Porteous on Christmas Eve for 4+.
Definitely Not Panto
P is for perty-flirty performances in Dirty Dancing from 4th December through to 12th January (1,950p - 7,500p).
Links to reviews (with fewer p’s) are added as they come in.