REVIEW: Florians panto
Jack and The Beanstalk
The Florians Theatre
THEATRICAL wisdom dictates that actors should avoid working with animals or children.
And when the animal is as cute as Buttercup, possibly the cuddliest Highland cow to be seen in Inverness in many a year, then her human co-stars stand in severe danger of being upstaged.
Fortunately for her two legged cast mates, the Florians can draw on a well of talent that can more than hold their own in the face of scene stealing bovines.
Buttercup, brought to life by Carla Kelly and Kara Mackenzie, was not the only animal act to participate. The silliness also included a full flock of sheep and the golden egg laying goose, gamely played by Hannah Nimmo.
There is also the singing harp played by Anne Bamborough who, if she does not look much like a musical instrument, at least has the voice to carry off the part.
Occupying more familiar roles as dame and idiot sidekick are Nicholas Nicol and Morag Barron, who comfortably slip into their parts, and in Nicky’s case the improbable number of over the top outfits owned by the supposedly impoverished Dame Trott ("Don’t blame me, blame the author of this rubbish," she says by way of explanation).
Their timing and comic delivery keep the laughs flowing regularly as, in true panto style, they keep the show on just the right side of chaos.
Said author is Nicky’s brother Trevor Nicol, who again takes on duties as the man-you-love-to-hate as the odious Fleshcreep, henchman to the unseen giant Blunderbore, putting him in poll position as the second most memorable pantomime villain with questionable hair of 2016 – and there is a sly reference to the other one as Fleshcreep borrows one of the President Elect’s catchphrases.
Trevor’s script will, in another age old panto tradition, have you groaning at some of the gags, but the laugh quota is high, even if this is a locally made panto that is surprisingly light on local references.
Director Jo Galloway, new to the Florians, keeps things flowing, even if the romantic duet between principle boy (Aileen Hendry) and female lead Jill (Emma Nairne) is, as usual in these things, the one point where you might start thinking about looking at your watch.
The special effects – the beanstalk and eventual glimpse of the giant – might be a little on the basic side and the audience participation levels midweek left a little to be desired, but the Florians can always be relied on to leave you laughing, whatever your age, and that’s what panto is all about.