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Robinson Crusoe And The Caribbean Pirates

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Daniel Defoe would be turning in his grave were he to see this camp and colourful adaptation of his 1709 fictional autobiography Robinson Crusoe. Pantomime demi-god Paul Elliot and Edinburgh’s resident dame Allan Stewart have decimated that piece of classic literature, cutting every ounce of epic life-affirming struggle and replacing it with innuendo, slapstick and songs.

But if Elliot and Stewart were students in the art of populist decimation, with this evidence they’d have graduated with first class honours. Because even though most of the characters are utterly irrelevant to the wafer-thin plot, there is little tension as to whether the goodies will win and chorus numbers are shoehorned at every possible opportunity, the audience have a good night out.

This is largely due to Allan Stewart, whose domineering performance as Mrs Crusoe is delightfully restrained whilst retaining the acid-tongued hilarity Edinburgh audiences have come to love.

We follow wee Robinson Crusoe (an energetic Johnny Mac) as he races a dastardly pirate named Blackheart (a suitably mean Grant Stott) from Edinburgh docks to the sun-kissed Mango Island. Due to the pressures of the credit crunch, both are desperate to get their hands on some buried treasure, the map of which is tattooed on Crusoe’s backside.

Local references are paramount to the success of the King’s panto, and Stewart’s first stage entrance sets the standard: via one of the city’s long-awaited trams singing Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’. Jo Freer maintains the show’s energy as the bolshy – if unnecessary – mermaid, Charlie Cairoli’s classic clowning is well tailored to the cheeky humour of the city’s first-time theatregoers, and Moyo Omoniyi’s Girl Friday deftly delivers powerhouse vocals in an assured pantomime debut.

Impressive sets and colourful costumes (watch out for Chris Hayward’s marvellous creation to finish act one) are matched with a beaming chorus and rousing five-piece band. The plot could do with some strengthening and the first act lags, but the King's panto is still a child’s perfect introduction to live theatre and an adult’s guilty Christmas treat.


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