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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008


© Mark Fisher - published in The Guardian

King's, Glasgow
4 out of 5

If there's merit in Malcolm Gladwell's contention that genius requires 10,000 hours of practice then, when it comes to the community singalong, Gerard Kelly has surely reached that level of sublime perfection.

Over the years, the actor has clocked up countless hours leading audiences through this arcane ritual: the silly words, the sillier actions, the crowd's inability to join in, the cry of "bring down the cloot" (the backdrop cloth that displays the lyrics), the competition between two sides of the auditorium, the cheers, the boos, and finally the whole thing sung at double speed.

It is the same routine from year to year and from panto to panto. We do not applaud Kelly for innovation, on the contrary, we do it for his wholehearted upholding of tradition, right down to the way he always says "compemetition" and curls his leg in that coyly juvenile way. To see him go through this ridiculous rite with such eagerness and animation, knowing he'll be doing it again at a matinee tomorrow, is bizarrely uplifting. You could call it genius.

In Cinderella, the King's fields a most formidable cast. Not only Kelly, as the perennial Buttons, but Andy Gray with an octave-dropping Baron Hardup, Karen Dunbar pulling off an impressive alter-ego double-act as the Fairy Godmother and the Wicked Stepmother, and Gavin Mitchell and Steven McNicoll playing thuggish Ugly Sisters. If anything, there is too much talent for everyone to get a decent look-in and, certainly, the dance routines look tawdry in comparison with so much cartoonish comic energy.

It's a shame to see Dunbar's comic patter reined in, but her baddie, based on Edna E Mode in The Incredibles, is entertaining, her goodie beautiful, and her singing voice unmatched.

© Mark Fisher, 2008

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