Not all pantomimes are created equal.
Even confined by a shoestring budget and sub-60 minute run time, this year’s Òran Mór panto still manages to be the fairest in the land – distilling belly laughs, acerbic social commentary and original music in this pint-sized, easily scoffable delight.
Johnny McKnight is already cemented as one of Scotland’s most creative and progressive pantomime minds – bringing many out of date practices, misogynistic tropes and backward routines bang up to date.
He’s already penning pantomimes in Glasgow’s Tron and Stirling’s Macrobert this year but turning his hand to the Òran Mór’s institutional Panto, Pie and a Pint might just be the icing on his Christmas pudding.
Sickly-sweet Snow White has a price on her head as her wicked step-mum tussles to stay on top as the Fairest in the Land. Capers really begin when Snow White’s Nurse, Hedda Lettuce, sends her deep into the forest where she stumbles upon the Seven Maws.
Expect all the chaos and frolics of the traditional pantomime – plenty of It’s Behind You’s and Oh No It’s Not’s – but there’s much more this than your typical panto.
As with all McKnight touches, this potted production turns the very genre on its head – calling out the stereotypical through original songs and effortless throwaways.
The whole panto is unpacked in Kenny Miller’s perfectly proportioned pantosphere, complete with the West End venue’s traditional songsheet blind.
Feisty female leads are no stranger in the 21st Century pantosphere – but this Snow White (Julie Cullen) takes things to a whole new level. Think Princess Fiona on steroids!
The unenviable task of performing McKnight’s deliciously devilish dame falls to Glasgow’s own Neil John Gibson. They’re some of the biggest shoes in Scottish panto to fill – and Gibson is not afraid to fills his boots.
His rapport with the audience is electric, done with a sharp tongue and a genuine warmth that turns quivering men from hiding in their fleeces to slut-dropping in a disco-fuelled danceathon in less than an hour.
You could blame the ice cold Tennents or the protein-packed pies but it’s clear as day that this dame knows exactly what she’s doing.
Paired with the hilariously toatie Maureen Carr and brilliant Carmen Pieraccini, this pantomime is a submersive sensation that sends itself up almost as much as it does its city rivals!
As alternative festive plans go, it’s hard to think of a better way to spend an hour. It only feels unfair to wax so lyrically about the hottest ticket in town given it has very nearly sold out already.
So beg, steal, borrow, pawn your granny if you need to – just make sure to have Snow White and the Seven Maws in your festive calendar this Christmas.