Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Emblazoned across the stage is ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ - which says it all really!

Why is it? Well, where do I start?

The KIng’s panto last Christmas won the Great British Pantomime Award for Best Pantomime of the Year, but if you thought that was good you’re in for even more of a treat this year.

Once again the famous King’s panto has pulled out all the stops, no expense spared. The sets are from the London Palladium and the circus-themed extravaganza features world famous (and death defying) circus acts.

At the heart of it all is, of course (with apologies to Hugh Jackman), the greatest showman, co-writer and dame extraordinaire Allan Stewart, with his long-time cohorts Grant Stott and Andy Gray, back this year after illness meant he missed last year’s production - and what a welcome the audience gave him! It’s an absolute joy to see these three working together while at the same time having a great laugh (which they often do!).

Not to be outdone by the terrific trio, newcomer Jordan Young, River City’s bad boy (well, one of them!) does a sterling job as Joey the Clown, even walking the high-wire and delivering an admirable monologue at breakneck speed!

This time round Stewart is Dame May McReekie, the owner of a circus which won’t use animals. Gray is her hapless husband, while Young plays a naive clown desperate to be star of the show and marry the McReekie’s daughter Goldilocks (Gillian Parkhouse).

But there’s another circus in town, owned by Baron Von Vinklebottom, who loves being cruel, and Stott gets plenty of boos as the villain, especially as so many people these days are aware of cruelty to animals and campaign against it - a nice message amongst all the razzmatazz.

Enter the three bears who, finding the McReekies sheltering in their home, vow to save their circus - until the vile Von Vinklebottom kidnaps them. Clare Gray, Ross Finnie and especially the hip swivelling Darren Brownlie as Baby Bear are hilarious and their accents are had people crying with laughter, eh!

There’s more of a story than most to this panto but it certainly doesn’t go short on entertainment.Thrills, but hopefully not spills, come in the form of The Berserk Riders, four motorcyclists whose terrifying act had me on the edge of my seat, and the amazing Great Juggling Alfio from a large circus family in Spain.

This panto has it all: topical jokes which promise to keep up with the news; a wee bit of audience participation, and a singalong, but most of all it’s a thrilling, dazzling, sensational explosion of colour and fun, superbly presented. My face was aching with laughing so much.

Oh, and it beats The Lion King, about to start at the other end of town. The panto’s animals, from a massive gorilla, giraffes, hippos, elephants and zebras to kangaroos and chimps, were on stage first!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until January 19.
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
Image: Douglas Robertson