In the ancient alchemy of creating pantomime gold, the double act remains a vital ingredient.

The right chemistry can illuminate a performance from start to finish, lead an audience through scenes and set switches and set the pace with punchlines and perfectly timed nods to the gallery.

Now in their ninth year as a ‘couple’ at Glasgow’s Pavilion, bar the odd Covid-enforced break, Stephen Purdon and Grado have it down to an art form.

The pair, respectively known as the beloved Shellsuit Bob of River City and Scotland’s most successful professional wrestler, star as Pirates Pilchard and Pucklebum in this year’s production of Treasure Island and are masters at carrying the crowd along on the adventure.

Setting sail on the banks of the Clyde, bound for Ben Gunn’s island (now occupied by his daughter Brenda, played by veteran of Scottish stage and screen, Elaine McKenzie-Ellis) this show has a distinctly Glaswegian flavour, peppered with in-jokes and local gags.

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This is the Pavilion and, as the home of traditional Glasgow theatre, you would expect no less, but it’s the character and personality of the individual performers which ensures this production hits the mark.

The aforementioned Bob and Grado (aka Stephen Purdon and Graeme Stevely) have the licence to riff and improvise and there were moments where both they, and the audience, took great delight in disturbing the best laid plans (and lines) of Long John Silver.

In the casting of this role the Pavilion has made another discovery in Jack Jester, Scotland’s reigning pro’ wrestling champion and actor in BBC Scotland’s ‘The Scotts’. The Jester (Lee Greig) plays the perfect villain, has charm and undoubted presence and, much to his own and the audience’s surprise, can hit a mean high note when it comes to the classic hits of the Spice Girls.

The Herald: Wrestler and ICW champion, Jack Jester (Lee Greig), stars as Long John Silver in the Pavilion's Treasure IslandWrestler and ICW champion, Jack Jester (Lee Greig), stars as Long John Silver in the Pavilion's Treasure Island (Image: The Pavilion Theatre)

Greig is one of several star turns with Liam Dolan excelling as Willie Hawkins, the brother of Jim (who is played by Scott Fletcher) and Jennifer Neil, who stars as the latter’s love interest, Polly Pollock, providing the vocal talent and leading the main musical interludes.

The humour is often riotous, while never being too risqué for a younger audience. Treasure Island also hits that sweet spot in terms of running time, never dragging and leading adults to look impatiently at their phones or watches.

Will Hawkins and his gang find the treasure or will Silver and his pirates win the day? Thanks to the cast and a slickly produced, but often riotous performance, the audience are the ones who strike gold.  

Treasure Island, The Pavilion, Glasgow

Rating: Four and a half stars

Show information: Treasure Island runs until Sunday January 14 at the Pavilion Theatre, 121 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3AX. The theatre runs 'Saver Performances' with reduced ticket prices and welcomes Group and School bookings. Find out more at