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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me @markffisher and @writeabouttheat I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012 and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers published in July 2015. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Sleeping Beauty, MacRobert Arts Centre review

Published in The Guardian

Sleeping Beauty

Macrobert, Stirling
3 out of 5

Is it Stirling's central location that makes its panto such an amalgam? Or is it that writer Johnny McKnight has a magpie appetite for good ideas, whatever their provenance? Either way, Sleeping Beauty looks broadly for inspiration and, panto being the bastard artform it is, comes out looking bright and distinctive in its own right.

From the Christmas shows of Stuart Paterson, it takes a respect for narrative and an appreciation of character. From the postmodern pantos of Glasgow's Tron, it takes the idea that those characters are always likely to wander off stage and into another show in the pantosphere. From the annual spectacular at the Glasgow King's, it takes the "Hiya, pals" camaraderie developed by actor Gerard Kelly and fashions it into the short-trousered shape of Ross Allan. Throw in the Citizens Theatre glamour of designer Kenny Miller and McKnight's love of pop culture, and you have a healthy hybrid that nods to tradition without being bound by it.

The mix can be uneven. Portraying Sleeping Beauty's mother as a fame-hungry narcissist scores on laughs and topical satire, but it makes her look no better than the bad fairy, who has at least got a justifiable grievance. And by turning the good fairy into the dame, McKnight rules out the possibility of any serious moral battle.

But what it lacks in consistency, the show makes up for in raucous energy. With an unbecoming Kylie fixation – outsize hot pants and all – McKnight is a brilliantly abrasive dame, brimming with infectious good humour and off-the-cuff ribaldry, and still capable of pulling off a smoochy, half-tempo I Should Be So Lucky.

He makes it look like so much riotous nonsense, yet the final-curtain union between Charlene Boyd's Beauty and Ross Allan's Jester is truly touching, a testament to the careful plotting that has gone on behind the fun and flamboyance.

Until 31 December. Box office: 01786 466666.

© Mark Fisher 2009

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its all a sham. Nothing but tax deductible PR crap. Make the people love you. Take their money. Convince them that you're making the world a better place. Take more of their money. Be nothing but a greedy sell-out hypocrite pig with a fake commercial personality and a fake cause to pose for. Concentrate even more of the world's wealth and resources and lead the ignorant masses to believe that you're doing the opposite. I can't stop them and I can't punish them but I can tell you that their bogus promises to make the world a better place will not be kept. Any 'humanitarian' progress made in one area will always be lost in another with a net loss for the majority. There will be more poverty. More starvation. More conflict. Meanwhile the rich will keep getting richer and richer and richer. They will always dumb us down and divert our attention from one area to another. Just like they have been for at least 25 years. Ethipoia (still bad), Darfur (even worse), Malawi (still bad). As they concentrate more and more of the world's wealth and resources, they will cause more inflation, more poverty, more starvation, and more conflict on a global scale. In order to divert our attention, they will adopt another cause to pose for. and another. and another. and another. Each time, putting their fake humanitarian stamp on it and jet-setting the world in the name of 'humanity'. Actually charging their private jet rides and 5 star hotel accomodations to their own bogus 'foundations'. Pleading with us to buy more of their products and support more of their 'good will'. Taking more of our money and throwing a few crumbs back to the poor along the way. With another photo-op and worldwide publicity for each and every crumb. Like I said, its all a sham. Nothing but a giant marketing gimmick and a cheap excuse to keep getting richer and richer and richer. These people are actually causing the same problems they pretend to care about. It is the greatest scam of all time. I will not forgive them for it. I will expose as many as possible for the hypocrite pigs that they are. Thats my cause. Its the ugly truth. Someone has to tell it.

The rest of this heated debate can be read at RaisingMalawi.org (Madonna's foundation). The blog articles for World Aids Day, Madonna Shock, and Child Rights are there on the homepage. The debate continues.