For a stage with a more rural constituency than those in Scotland’s larger cities, Perth Theatre – under the artistic direction of Lu Kemp – consistently punches above its weight creatively. This year’s bright and very funny panto is no exception, taking the high concept outlined in the title and turning it over to leader of the gang Barrie Hunter to run with.
Frances Poet is a young Scottish writer of thoughtful insight (recent hits include the National Theatre of Scotland’s Adam and Gut), and her script is sharp and contemporary, riffing on Queen B’s (Helen Logan) obsession with youth and beauty, and her murderous, bullying envy of Emma Mullen’s Snow White for the crime of being young and pretty.
The Queen’s beauty elixir is fracked from the ground of the kingdom of Perthfect by a young chorus of singing, dancing mole children and the seven dames of the title, all of the latter roles played with vigorous and well-choreographed versatility and deliberately overplayed stage trickery by joint dames Hunter and Ewan Somers.
The pair are a powerful double act, and Hunter pulls extra shifts as the director of the show and the writer of ‘additional material’; presumably the Stanley Baxter-esque gag sections that give the show its greatest power, alongside musical director Alan Penman and choreographer Chris Stuart-Wilson’s thrilling dance sequences to contemporary pop hits that have been subtly rewritten to fit the story.
Elsewhere, Mullen’s Snow White is energetic and relatable in the title role, and Kyle Gardiner and Michael Dylan are the endearing but largely ineffective Huntsman and Prince Poshpants, respectively. It’s a warm-hearted story about being true to yourself and forgetting what others think, although it only roars fully to life when the dames or the dancers get involved.