Æ Review – Humpty Dumpty

Dec 15 2010 | By More

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Anne Mackenzie as Mary Quite Contrary, Ronnie Miller as Humpty Dumpty, Kirsty Boyle as Polly Flinders ans Will MacIver as Jack Spratt in EPT's 2010 pantomime: Humpty Dumpty

Humpty gives it the big thumbs up

Church Hill Theatre
By Thom Dibdin

Plenty of bad yolks and lots of scrambled song lyrics make for some cracking good entertainment in the Edinburgh People’s Theatre pantomime version of Humpty Dumpty up at the Church Hill Theatre.

Not to mention of flock of young chickens from the Mandy Black School of Dance who put a real shine onto the dance routines – and a Dame whose range of frocks would put all the bright tail feathers and florid wattles of a barnyard cockerel in the shade.

It’s not all eggsellent, however. There are times when the script needs a stiff whisking, a clutch of points where it is over-egged and the whole production is definitely over-boiled – by a good half hour at least.

What is great about this panto, though, is the level of enthusiasm generated from the stage. A shade more energy would be good from some of the performers, but there is nothing lacking in the fun which the whole cast appear to be having.

From Iain Fraser’s upfront Dame Dobb and Helen E Nix’s thigh-slapping principal boy Tommy Tittlemouse, right down to Alex Stewart’s Little Bo-Peep – who appears to be mysteriously Antipodean from her small clutch of lines – the company allow their own enjoyment to break the fourth wall and infect their audience.

Even the light-footed Kirsty Boyle as Polly Flinders and Will MacIver as her beau, Jack Spratt, succeed in converting their own enjoyment into audience pleasure. Their difficulty is not of their own making, however, as Norman Robbins script doesn’t give them enough to do except hang around on stage looking lovelorn between delivering the occasional plot-critical line.

Indeed, it is a peculiar plot all round, with Humpty Dumpty a magic egg which has sat on the walls of the king of Nursery-Rhyme Land’s palace for two millennia. Now, with Lyzzie Dell’s magic fairy Mother Goose powerless to help, the egg must fall and reveal the numpty lad who will save the land from evil Monstro.

Ronnie Miller has a constantly bemused look about him as Humpty Dumpty. It’s never quite clear whether it is put on or not but it serves the character well, although there are times when he needs to let go and start mugging it a bit. Only when he and Dame Dobb set about a reworked version of Fever is the true potential of his deliberately stilted characterisation revealed.

Miller is, however, quite capable at delivering the jokes – both the good and the truly dire. And while the basic script is getting on a bit, the company are on the ball enough to add a good number of local jokes and topical references.

Anne Mackenzie is convincingly capricious as Mary Quite Contrary, the King’s niece and ward, who Tommy Tittlemouse is hoping to marry. If only she’ll stay of the same mind for longer than half a minute – and isn’t kidnapped by Mike Gibb’s Grimm, henchman to the evil sorcerer.

There’s a good functional set that allows the action to flow. The song choice is solid, dipping into the cannon of stage musicals rather than contemporary pop-culture or even the world of Glee.

Overall, a fun and entertaining show. What it does need to do, however, is have just that bit more of a belief in itself. Having fun is just the first step, the next one is to begin to positively revel in the pure preposterousness of the brilliant annual ritual which is pantomime.

Run continues to Sunday 19 December

EPT Website


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