The return of John Barrowman and the Krankies to Glasgow’s SECC has now become a seasonal fixture. But after last year’s action-packed show, in which the company seemed intent on creating a Wagnerian pantomime that incorporated everything from horse-riding to 3D computer graphics, Dick McWhittington feels almost low-key. Riding on the charisma of Barrowman and the vaudeville routines of the Krankies, McWhittington is a very traditional pantomime with a few additional technological tricks.
Barrowman’s Dick is at the centre of all the action - a leering, knowing presence - while the Krankies work the comic interludes. There are plenty of asides to adults, and play on Jeanette Krankie’s pensioner as schoolboy identity: the well-drilled chorus are suitably precise and glamorous, while Pete Gallagher’s King Rat gets the most out of his battles with the audience.
The spectacular set-pieces - high wires, pyrotechnics and, of course, the 3D graphics - are scattered liberally throughout the evening, but the structure is built firmly around giving the stars an opportunity to do their routines. Although there is a good connection between the audience and the stage, the success of the show relies as much on nostalgia for old fashioned fun as the acts themselves.