Beauty and the Beast

King’s Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

three stars

So here we are in Auchtereekie, where the villagers sing and dance in upbeat fashion and – yikes! – a monstrous ugly Beast is lord of the manor. Small children will probably know this story because of the Disney animation, the subsequent musical and recent film.

None of these, however, had a Mrs May Potty (Allan Stewart) or a ridiculous lech called Flash Boaby (Grant Stott). Phwoar, folks! The ‘boaby’ references that come thick and fast certainly have the adults chortling, but frankly become wearisome in what is meant to be a family show. But without Andy Gray’s usual input – he has been ‘no’ very well’ – there’s no lovable numpty for us to latch onto, no doolally fall guy to act the foil to Stewart’s Dame who instead has to keep slagging off Stott, not as his on-stage character but as himself.

Both Stewart and Stott square up to their respective tasks with tremendous aplomb. The leather-clad Stott swaggers with silly shades of oily, leery ego while knowing that even his name, Flasgh Boaby, is another joke at his expense.

Stewart, in his time-honoured guise of Aunty May, juggles the double entendres with knowing ease. Inbetween-times, the story-line puts in an appearance.Gillian Parkhouse’s Belle is a delightful strong point, here.

Sparky and smart, she cuts through Boaby’s chat-ups, recognises the inner truth of the Beast (Chris Cowley,) while standing up to his growly behaviour. She has a brother, Dougal (Daniel Cullen) who is little more than a plot twist to get Belle into the castle, while The Enchantress (Jacqueline Hughes) has a singing voice that justifies her frequent re-appearing to update us on time running out for the Beast she cursed.

In terms of appearances, this is a seriously glitzy production – but, as Belle reminds us, appearances aren’t everything and there’s something shabby, slightly off-colour, about this show. Keep getting better, Andy – and come back soon.