Review:Dick McWhittington,Perth Concert Hall

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Something is a-stirring in Perth’s Concert Hall. Rats are scampering everywhere, Perth’s buildings are on fire and one Dick McWhittington (a charismatic John Winchester) is arriving, classy laddie as he is, by Megabus to either get a place on The X Factor, or save the Fair City and become Lord Provost.

Since the latter is looking more likely, the lad sets up with his narcoleptic yet feisty talking cat Kitty (Helen Mackay, superb) and introduces the audience to a few chums such as the brilliant double act, Senga Mcscruff (Barrie Hunter, a whirlwind of single entendres, HRT patches and flying sweeties) and ‘her’ dozy son Sandy (a cute, impish Harry Ward).

But arch enemy Queen Rat (Eleanor Griffiths, too fun and pretty to be truly evil) has other plans, and by a slap of her thighs, she’s going to dominate Perth, or what’s left of it, with her rodent henchmen. Oh, yes, she is- after a song or two.

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I think I smell a rat: Eleanor Griffiths and John Winchester. Photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

And that is just about it. Alan McHugh’s narrative, although witty and sharp-paced, is a tad thin. It’s bolstered by local parodies, from Ann Gloag to The Loft nightclub; some incongruous songs and tunes (The Proclaimers’ (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles rubs up along Jonathan Richman’s Egyptian Reggae and The Village People’s In The Navy) plus some truly esoteric lines- a reference to William Rees-Mogg, anyone?! Stuart Watson’s band are on fine form, often ad-libbing and interacting with the cast.

Ian Grieve’s direction ramps up the bawdiness, and even if the plot gets buried in a Moroccan misstep during the second half, more reminiscent of Aladdin, it’s a fun ride for all. There’s mild dental sadism; silly swordplay and Ken Harrison’s set and costumes are a technicolour spectacle. With enough heart- as well as farts- it is mired in tradition, yet forever looking to the future. For now, Perth panto is definitely in safe paws.

(Lorna Irvine)

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Fancy a cocktail? The ever-subtle Barrie Hunter rockin’ out. Photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

Continues until December 26th

01738 621031 http://www.horsecross.co.uk

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