Fully embracing the tried and trusted panto formula – the knowing recycling of a classic fairytale with a familiar riff on tried and tested jokes giving them momentum – Brunton Theatre may not be reinventing the wheel in 2010 with its staging of Mother Goose, but when something works this well, why change it?
A distinctly Scottish flavour is added to the Mother Goose story, as Prince Jack (Gerry Kielty) looks to revive his crumbling castle with the proceeds made from selling a golden egg. A spanner is thrown into the works when the evil Vainglorious (Edward Cory) decides he wants to marry the bonniest lass in Musselburgh, Jill (Julie Heatherill), resulting in various mishaps and kidnappings involving Jill and the egg.
Helping (or is that hindering?) Jack are Mother Goose aka Gertie Ga Ga (Craig Glover, back for a second year as Dame) and her jester, Muddles (Aaron Usher), as romance blossoms and evil threatens the land.
One-liners, convoluted plot summaries and ludicrous set pieces are the name of the day here, the whole endeavour hanging together thanks to the sheer enthusiasm of the performers and an audience willing them on.
The central pairing of Glover and Usher is the heart of the show, Usher revelling in the corny jokes and banter with the crowd. Now in his tenth Brunton panto, there can’t be a permutation on the role of “daft laddie” that Usher hasn’t covered, yet he’s still fresh as ever, no doubt egged on by Glover’s gloriously OTT performance and even more OTT costumes.
Throw in songs spanning the last five decades, a few nods to reality TV and Doctor Who (even the recent Doctor Who Proms are referenced, proving nothing is too obscure) and more than a few mentions of Musselburgh itself, and this is a show with something for grannies, grandchildren and most family members in between.
The rather abrupt wrapping up of plot threads and hasty ending aside, this is yet another triumph for the Brunton and a reminder that it’s worth braving the snow and ice when the entertainment is as much fun as Mother Goose.