Goldilocks & The Three Bears

December 10, 2016 | By | 2 Replies More

★★★★☆    Just right

Church Hill Theatre: Fri 9 – Sun 18 Dec 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

Tuneful, funny and an utterly traditional pantomime, EPT’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears comes out with all guns blazing and satisfies completely.

The story of Goldilocks and the porridge, chairs and beds may not seem enough for a full-scale panto. But, of course, that’s only if you’ve forgotten about Dick Dastardly’s attempt to steal Goldilocks’s mother, Dame Trott’s gold-producing apple tree, and the visit to the North Pole this involves …

The cast of Goldilocks and the Three Bears (with both wee bears). Photo: EPT

If this sounds bonkers, that’s because it is. At least it means that the story is much less predictable than the average pantomime, with the audience often having no idea where Ron Hall’s off-the-peg script will take them next.

A problem that can affect pantomimes is the tendency to underplay things rather than embracing the ridiculousness of it all. This is certainly not the case here. In a tremendously colourful production, director Colin Peter throws everything at the stage and gets some huge performances from the cast.

This is exemplified by Mike Brownsell’s evil squire Dick Dastardly. He positively revels in the nastiness of the role, superbly backed up by Cameron Kirby as his henchman Igor. Their supremely daft version of Money Makes The World Go Round is an undoubted highlight.

The musical numbers, which often slow these productions down, are particularly well done. Making the big love duet Love’s An Open Door from Frozen is extremely clever, as younger sections of the audience will recognise it more easily than the other, mostly musical theatre-derived numbers. These do play to the cast’s strengths, an example being Seize The Day from Newsies, whose non-specific call to arms works perfectly in a pantomime.

impact

The two-man band of MD Barrie Simcock and drummer Duncan Clark make enough noise for a full orchestra, and most of the songs are short enough to make an impact without outstaying their welcome.

Goldilocks Ensemble and Dancers. Photo EPT

The dance routines are more expansive, with Mandy Black’s choreography extending to tap dancing, a maypole and an effective spooky number under UV light. The stage seems filled to bursting in these routines, and they certainly have enough impact to match the big performances that surround them.

Euan McIntyre’s traditional Dame is another characterisation that fills the auditorium, not being afraid to mix the comedy with appearing oddly unsympathetic in Trott’s treatment of her son Simple Simon. Simon, the Buttons figure here, is played with impressive physicality and goofy magnetism by Peter Morrison, with Kirsty Boyle putting in another high-octane, expansive performance as his frustrated girlfriend Marigold.

The three bears themselves are played with a combination of cuddly relish and potential growly threat by Gordon Braidwood, Helen Hammond and the excellent Martha Thomson (who alternates as Baby Bear with Charlie Verity). When Goldilocks and the bears burst into The Bare Necessities (another well chosen, familiar song), it is one of many moments here that is completely nonsensical but works so well. Mister Bear’s uncle – who is, naturally, a polar bear – gives Graham Bell a chance for a cameo of warmth and authority.

A preservation order should be slapped on EPT pantomimes for no other reason than that the traditional Principal Boy now seems almost extinct. Stephanie Hammond’s Rory McRory may not have all of the necessary thigh-slapping expansiveness but is otherwise a very pleasing performance, while Carol Bryce’s Goldilocks is a winsome characterisation that avoids the saccharine quality that can afflict the romantic leads.

pace

Another satisfyingly traditional role is the Forest Fairy, played by Alix Spinks with a carefully judged mixture of kindness and enthusiasm.

Colourful backdrops add greatly to the spectacle, while Peter Horsfall’s sound is spot-on and Robert Fuller’s lighting is notably effective. The pace of the show is just right, with one first-night glitch in scene-shifting covered completely by the band’s heroic vamping. The auditorium is well used, with a close encounter with a spook a real possibility.

There are more than enough local and topical references stuffed into the script to satisfy anyone. While there are jokes for the adults – notably the Squire’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it avoidance of swearing – it never shades into the overly nudge-nudge feeling of some pantos. Instead, there is a hugely inclusive atmosphere, with the audience participation aimed squarely at the younger attenders, and no attempts at humiliation.

The bold, big, primary-coloured feel does limit the possibilities for emotion that the very best Christmas shows display. Otherwise, there is very little to criticise in a huge production that is heartily recommended.

Running time 2 hours 20 minutes (including one interval)
Church Hill Theatre, 33 Morningside Road, EH10 4DR
Friday 9 – Sunday 18 December.
Evenings Fri 9, Wed 14-Fri 16: 7pm;
Saturdays 10, 17 two shows: 11am & 3.30pm.
Sundays 11 & 18: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: www.ept.org.uk

ENDS

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  1. Goldilocks pictured : All Edinburgh Theatre.com | December 12, 2016
  1. Susan wales says:

    Looking forward to seeing it next Saturday.

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