A word of warning to anyone heading to the Brunton Theatre for a performance of Sinbad and the Little Mermaid and expecting a relaxing time: you’ll get more calm and tranquillity in the centre of the M8 during rush-hour than you will during this energetic production.
Taking place in some parallel universe version of Musselburgh, Swishee Swashee (Arron Usher), his brother Sinbad (Gavin Paul) and mother Saucy Nancy (Craig Glover) live together on the good ship Bobbin’ Tide, seemingly unphased by the crowds of children and adults watching them from the stalls each evening.
Nearby, underneath local landmark the Bass Rock, is the lost city of Atlantis, where the evil Crabsclaw (Isabella Jarrett) is searching for the Pearl of Beauty which will restore her looks and make her the fairest of them all once again.
Swimming to safety, young mermaid Coral (Julie Heatherill) encounters Sinbad, enlisting his help to defeat Crabsclaw by going in search of Neptune’s Trident.
Trying to summarise the plot isn’t a simple task, with much story to crammed into the runtime, but none of it really matters: all of the preamble is simply an excuse for a series of running jokes, costume changes, cheery songs and the odd double entendre which wouldn’t look out of place in an old Carry On film.
There may be references to Doctor Who and The X Factor alongside music from Take That, Alesha Dixon and High School Musical, but throw in a few traditional shouts of “Oh Yes You Are!” and “He’s Behind You!” and you’ve got a reassuringly old-school panto.
Of the players, Arron Usher keeps the kids on-side as Wishee while Craig Clover’s Nancy does well with the various costume changes and song-and-dance routines, the occasional improvised line causing his fellow actors to corpse before the script is finally returned to.
While Julie Heatherill makes for a strong Coral, particularly in the numerous duets, love-interest Gavin Paul is given little to do as the soppy Sinbad and it’s David Elliot who is frequently allowed to steal the show as best-friend Shingle, his possession by Crabsclaw one of the highlights of the piece.
Packed with one-liners and performed with relish by a top-notch local cast, Sinbad fully embraces the spirit of the medium and proves once again that Musselburgh really does have talent.
Review by Jonathan Melville
Sinbad and the Little Mermaid runs from 20 November to 2 January, various times, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh- visit www.bruntontheatre.co.uk