Spillers Pantomimes returns to Motherwell for the 13th year running with a show that is so popular it had its run extended by a week before it had even started.
Much of that popularity is down to Ian ‘Sheepie’ Smith, who plays Wishee Washee in this his 10th year at the venue. Smith owns this show with his audience rapport. Everyone is happy to be in his gang and screams and Flosses to prove it.
Smith has strong support from Craig Anthony-Ralston, as an Aladdin who can also work an audience, and Storm-Skyler McClure as a Princess Jasmine who, thankfully, is more forceful and stronger-minded than is the norm for the character. Alan Mirren and Jamie Lemetti work hard to ensure that their double act of Sgt Ping and PC Pong is not lost by comparison.
Alex Robertson’s Dame Widow Twanky doesn’t sustain the same level of energy. Robertson’s attempts to moderate the pace for his scenes slow things down too much. Jamie Bannerman’s Abanazar could also do more to earn his boos.The high-kicking dance troupe, however, choreographed by Lisa Jayn Gordon, have an energy to equal Smith’s.
Writer and director Bev Berridge has packed the show with set pieces, but has paid less attention to ensuring that they link seamlessly. A 3D horror effect – “it’s behind you” – is a great idea, but over-egged. The sound design is poor and there are far too many jokes dependent on misunderstanding a Chinese accent – it’s just unnecessary.