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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

Mother Bruce

© Mark Fisher - published in The Guardian

Mother Bruce
Tron, Glasgow
3 out of 5

To say this year's Tron panto is conventional would be misleading. Any version of Mother Goose that, instead of a bird, features an Australian spider could hardly be called run-of-the-mill. And only at the Tron would you find a scene in which the cast of The Wizard of Oz at the nearby Citizens (or are they from The Wizard of Never Woz at the Pavilion?) alight at the wrong stop on the panto express and get caught up in the story. That's before the principal boy from Aladdin at the Edinburgh King's starts rubbing her lamp.

Such details are what makes the annual caper by Gordon Dougall and Fletcher Mathers a jewel in the tarnished pantosphere. All those self-aware references to Christmas show traditions provide amusement for the adults without diminishing the pleasure for the children.

The Tron has always had a genuine love of panto even as it takes delight in sending it up. Mother Bruce is pretty much the genuine article, however, with relatively little of the subversive cheek of previous Tron pantos. The spider notwithstanding, it sticks closely to the Mother Goose plot, complete with its moral about the perils of vanity, and is rather more mainstream than it cares to admit.

Viewed on that level there is plenty to love. The music is especially strong, with some great vocal work, notably the blues-influenced tones of Natalie Toyne's spider and the powerful tenor of Mark Prendergast, who works hard as Mother Bruce's son and a jovial leprechaun. Add the high-density rhyming of Stewart Porter's baddie, the vigour of George Drennan's dame and the quirky charm of Katrina Bryan's female lead, and you have a show that entertains in a surprisingly traditional way.

© Mark Fisher, 2008

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