Andy Gray, the uncrowned King of the King’s pantomime, returns to the stage in some style in Alan McHugh’s circus pantomime, directed by Ed Curtis.
Forced to sit out last year’s production due to ill health, Gray’s return as ringmaster Andy McReekie has been hotly anticipated, reuniting him with Allan Stewart in the dame role of Auntie May McReekie and Grant Stott as the evil Baron Von Vinklebottom.
Few, however, could have expected just how warm and joyous that return would be, as he stepped out from behind a wall of pink feather fans to announce in his warm, lugubrious tones that he has been “no very well”.
McHugh’s adaptation works up to a point. Circus animals dominate the plot. The Baron’s sadistic attitude contrasts to the McReekies’ no-cages policy and there are three speaking bears. It’s a shame that Clare Gray, Ross Finnie and Darren Brownlie, as the titular bears, are underused, the porridge scene almost inconsequential and the anthropomorphism of the finale provides a jarring note.
Jordan Young certainly has the patter as Joey the Clown, the best-pal role, but his performance could have been more physical. Gillian Parkhouse’s Goldilocks is a pleasingly strong presence but she’s squeezed in terms of time on stage.
The show’s real circus buzz comes from the Berserk Riders and the Great Juggling Alfio, but all the best bits belong to Gray, Stewart and Stott, whose long-standing panto relationship is moving into a more mature and balanced phase.