Goldilocks and the Three Bears

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

four stars

“Ah’ve no been very weel...’ The audience roars with delight as Andy Gray tweaks his weel-kent catchphrase in a reference to his missing last year’s panto due to ill health. The whole company are clearly glad he’s back – they even make a song and dance about it, with ANDY writ large in big, glittery letters behind him. Best of all, he’s fabulously on form: sending his voice looping from high to low on words that take his fancy – ‘box’ being one of them – while merrily slipping back into the bantering squabbles that have been a comedy mainstay of his relationship with Allan Stewart’s Auntie May.

He’s playing the Ringmaster in her family circus – not that he gets to crack the whip. That falls to the wickedly cruel Baron who also has a circus, you’ve probably guessed that the whip (und an atrocious German aczent) are wielded by Grant Stott, who roundly deserves the boos and hisses because of how he mistreats his animal acts (and that cod accent!).

If it’s an entertaining pleasure to see Gray, Stewart and Stott reunited in tongue-twisting wordplay, and to welcome the affably doolally Jordan Young into the Edinburgh fold as Joey the Clown, the weak point comes with the plot-line itself.

The old tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is made over into a story about rival circusses looking for a star attraction – cue three talking bears of child-pleasing furry cuteness, with Darren Brownlie especially adorable as the wriggly-squiggly dancing Baby Bear. The circus theme is bolstered by The Great Juggling Alfio (he does, and he is) and the Berserk Riders, a motorcycle stunt team. And mighty respect to Young who, for love of Goldilocks (the disappointingly underused Gillian Parkhouse), walks the tightrope. As is the Qdos way, it is a lavishly dressed spectacle, but the real sparkle isn’t in sequins but in the performers – and luckily they shine.