Roll up, roll up for the greatest show, er, Panto on earth! Yes, it’s that time of year when Panto season is upon us and things are no different in Edinburgh’s renowned King’s Theatre where the combined talents of Grant Stott, Allan Stewart and Andy Gray – with help from Jordan Young and Gillian Parkhouse – deliver two hours of high octane shenanigans, dazzling musical numbers and other surprises. Oh, did I mention porridge?

This year’s offering is GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS but not as we know it. The main part of the plot is set in a circus – the McReekie Circus to be precise, led by ringmaster Andy McReekie (Andy Gray, who received rapturous applause after his anticipated return to the stage following a serious illness). Of course, where there’s Andy there’s got to be Allan Stewart, here playing the flamboyant Dame May McReekie. Of course, where there is Andy and Allan there’s got to be everyone’s favourite Panto-villain Grant Stott, here playing the dastardly Baron Von Vinklebottom (sliding between a hilarious mock-German accent and native ‘Edinborian’) to everyone’s delight!
To put it upfront, he premise of the story doesn’t exactly stretch the little grey cells: Ringmaster Andy is a wee bit worried about the future of his circus and thus in desperate search for a new sensation. Enter immensely likeable if somewhat simple Joey the Clown (Jordan Young) who reckons he has what it takes to be the biggest sensation ever. More to the point, he hopes to impress the lovely Goldilocks (Gillian Parkhouse) who he fancies big time and who can sing extremely well.

Cue for the usual side-splittingly funny banter between Andy and Dame May, occasionally joined by the sly Baron. Because it’s all set in a bright and colourful circus the audience gets treated to bright and colourful dance interludes and what’s more, real acrobats in form of master juggler ‘The Great Juggling Alfio’ (simply jaw-dropping!) and the fearless ‘Berserk Riders’ (even more jaw-dropping!) performing their daredevil motorbike stunts.
At some point the three bears finally appear, namely when our heroes and Goldilocks get lost in the woods – ah, you know how the story goes. Entering the home of Daddy Bear, Mummy Bear and Baby Bear (Ross Finnie, Clare Gray and Darren Brownlie respectively) while they are out, the surprise is big when the huggable creatures return and it emerges that, just like Paddington, these bears are anthropomorphic and can speak. Yes, looks like ringmaster Andy has finally found his ‘sensation’ (much to the chagrin of clown Joey) though it’s not before long when rumours about the talking bears reach the evil Baron. He immediately sets out to sabotage Andy’s plans by kidnapping Baby Bear and present him as his sensation in the Von Vinklebottom circus… a miserable and joyless place where all the animals are mistreated. Just don’t assume for one moment that Von Vinklebottom gets away with his plans…

It must be said that GOLDILOCKS contains considerably less political quips than previous shows though the ‘Dame May and Nicola Sturgeon ventriloquist number’ is a hoot! We also have an utterly outrageous ‘A Capella-style farting choir’ (yes, you read that correctly) which had the audience in stitches. And Joey the Clown revealed his considerable skills on the tightrope. Bravo, Jordan Young! Fantastic performances all round, and watch out for that bonkers zoo at the end. The circus has come to town, oh yes it has!

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS runs at the King’s Theatre until 19th January 2020.

Photo credit: D. Robertson