Imagine Theatre has finally found its feet in Fife after two under-firing years, with a family-orientated Beauty and the Beast that works on every level.
Director Mairi Cowieson has a strong command of her company, ensuring that the audience engagement goes both ways. There are several forays of the cast into the auditorium and two routines when they bring audience members on stage.
The Adam Smith is one of the venues where Imagine Theatre is experimenting with allowing the audience to take photos and videos during the show. Greg Powrie’s Dame Kimmy leads the way, taking several selfies. But there is enough energy on stage to ensure that the audience’s own live-streaming and picture-taking are an afterthought and not distracting.
Powrie’s consistently well-judged and skilful performance overcomes all the pitfalls of audience participation with ease. Adrian MacDonald, making his professional panto debut, provides ebullient support as Kimmy’s son, Cam.
This is plot-driven show, however, which gives Kim Shepherd plenty to do as the Enchantress and makes great use of her powerful singing voice. Will Brenton’s script bulges with local references; he gives Powrie several well-attuned jokes at the expense of Brexit and finds room for all the expected panto set-pieces.
Jillian Cunningham is a pleasant Belle, but could assert herself more – unlike David Rankine’s splendidly debonaire baddie, the narcissistic Balloch Bennochy. Colin Little is an engaging Beast and choreographer Kenny Christie gets surprisingly tight performances from a strong local junior chorus as well as the ensemble.