Ya Beauty and the Beast
Fletcher Mathers and Gordon Dougall’s wonderfully Scottish new pantomime, Ya Beauty and the Beast,capitalises on The Tron’s notoriety for producing near cannibalistic pantomimes whilst being true to a more traditional model of festive family theatre. We are ever assured that the song sheet will be wheeled out when the villain is vanquished even if the happenings on stage have proved a little unconventional.
Bunty Beautox Andy Clark and niece Mary Hill’s Sally Reid quiet beachside existence is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of a hyperactive kangaroo Natalie Toyne and an overzealously fairytale prince Derek McGhie. Together, the group quest across to discover the secrets of the Pantosphere and overcome the villainous Barfolomew Beastie George Drennan. Expect dry ice, vaudeville comedy and plenty of audience interaction.
Dame Andy Clark’s performance as Bunty Beautox is typically Glaswegian, finding its feet somewhere between Rab C. and Mary Nesbitt. His rapport with the audience is warm and effortlessly fills the heels of the pantomime Dame legends who went before him. Costume designer Jessica Brettle has not given Bunty a particularly spectacular or absurd wardrobe but her designs impress without overwhelming.
Derek McGhie’s unconventional portrayal of Prince Charming cuts through the overindulgent heroism which the role usually calls for. Styled more on the Prince Charming of Shrek than of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, McGhie’s character dryly thigh slaps and winks throughout purely for the sake of irony.
Despite excellent performances from the small cast, the production is at times tired by its setting out to achieve too much. Though the script hints at climate change, it is never exploited. As long as the ice creams are still frozen by the intermission, the altogether more political discussion of global warming can melt away as quickly it was introduced.
These problems are of no lasting detriment to an overall enjoyment of the production. Ya Beauty and the Beast fondly captures the nostalgia of a family night at the theatre, delivering something altogether more unexpected without losing sight of its roots.
- Scott Purvis