A modern arts space on the banks of the River Clyde which opened five years ago, Beacon Arts Centre shares much in common with its panto this year, which is once again produced by Imagine Theatre. Both are clean, contemporary and perfectly functional, yet with just enough character to illustrate why they’re local favourites.
The show’s greatest recommendation comes with the quality of its cast, with a bunch of notable Scottish actors in key roles. Jimmy Chisholm, who is well-known across Scottish stages, stands out as the distinctive dame Moira McClunkey (“with a silent ‘k’… in Moira”), his performance based not on madcap silliness but a dry wit which allows for sophisticated ad-libs and interactions with the crowd.
Experienced panto traveler Lee Samuel is a strong foil to Chisholm as the clowning fool Hector, while Jane McCarry – recognised in these parts for her regular role on the BBC Scotland comedy Still Game – earns every boo and hiss as Carabosse, although it’s a shame that the script doesn’t allow for more to be made of her talents as a comic actor.
Mark Cox, also a Still Game veteran, plays an odd but entertaining dual role as Cludgie the hapless henchman and a missing royal, and where the inventive if low-budget set and design creates an impact on the Beacon’s compact stage, it’s in the understanding between the experienced principles that the piece really finds wings.
Mention is also deserved for the vivid and memorable dance sequences to a contemporary soundtrack, courtesy of choreographer Martin McLaughlin, MD Stuart William Fleming and a skilled troupe of young local performers.