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Snow White, Byre Theatre, St Andrews

IN recent years things have been frankly wrong-headed and wrong-footed in this nook of the Pantosphere – so hoop-de-do!

and chuckles of relief: this current offering, written and directed by Gordon Barr (the driving force behind Glasgow's hugely successful Bard in the Botanics seasons) is far removed from the usual turkey. Mind you, it is a somewhat over-stuffed dish of fun, not entirely sure if it wants to be a play or a panto and then deciding – like so many of the surrounding shops – to opt for the "twofer" (as in two for the price of one).

Actually, Barr could have cut to the chase – and his droll twist that sees the resourceful Snow White (Stephanie McGregor) coming to the rescue of a cowardy-custard Prince – without any detours into Dame-and-numpty territory. Alan Steele's lurid Nanny goes her dinger and Luke McConnell is never less than hyperactive as the clutzy jester, Muddles, but all too often their antics feel like episodes from another show. Sorry guys, but the action would speed by at a better pace for tots if you weren't there. Because we've already got smart patter thanks to the sparring between Prince Valiant (Tom Duncan, as the smug hunk) and a stubbornly unimpressed wee besom of a Snow White.

More wise-cracking, and some great singing, arrives with the fairy from the mirror, Mirabelle (Lynne Jenkinson) and her backing girlies The Mirrorettes (played, like the feral children who hide Snow White by local youngsters). Gillian Ford's Wicked Queen isn't short of repartee either. In all, it's a fresh and cleverly entertaining new direction for yule-tide jollity at the Byre– unlike that deadly apple, you can bite it and believe it with pleasure.


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