*** 3 Stars
“leaves us believing in the magic of Christmas”
Writer and Director John Binnie turns in his fifth pantomime for the Brunton that reunites what’s become a regular staple of cast members with some newbies for the sea faring pantomime adventure Sinbad the pantomime.
While there is plenty of adventure to be had the show lacks in actual pantomime, especially Act 1, where there are no panto sketches or many local references to be had, it’s very plot heavy with just the odd “its behind you, oh no it isn’t”. The choices made are interesting as last year’s Hansel and Gretel did see a return to a more traditional pantomime style so for this year to revert to a such a plot heavy formula seems a step backwards. That being said Act 2 does dial up the panto fun which is bolstered by a fabulous “bring doon the cloot” moment.
The casting is excellent with Wendy Seager returning to play not just one baddie but four, Seager always seems to get the balance between nastiness and redemption spot on. Calum Barbour makes his Brunton debut as “Sinbad” and brings a warm charm to the role. The same is true of Ross Donnachie as “Cuddles Nine-Lives” who transforms the “silly billy” character into something the kids adore and a unique twist at the end shows a rare emotional moment in panto.
Eilidh Weir “Rose” makes a fine female hero and her teaming with Isabella Jarrett as “Nurse” brings a charming and heart-warming honesty to the show. The shining star of the show must be Graham Crammond’s legendary dame “Betty Brunton”. A true pantomime creation with a plethora of ever silly costumes and always ready with a quip and audience aside his dame is pure panto perfection, however it is striking that Crammond doesn’t get a musical number of his own this year, surely every dame deserves a song to wow their audience into the panto magic.
Production wise Sinbad shines with Robin Mitchell’s Set and Costume design being on point and bolstered by Craig Dixon’s excellent Lighting Design that brings the Brunton alive and supported by Clark Beddie’s Sound Design.
Musical Director Tommie Travers once again delivers in spades blending pop tunes with a catchy nautical underscore that even sees a nod to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest Runner up. Once again Travers is on his own in the pit, why the Brunton simply won’t engage even a small band for the pit is striking. Even the smallest additions can make the biggest impact.
Sinbad the Pantomime is a lot of fun, and has a lot of Christmas magic to share, it just needs more of an injection of actual pantomime to fully justify its title. What it does have is an adventure story that calls to the child in us all and leaves us believing in the magic of Christmas. So, you won’t go wrong in buying a ticket and setting sail with Sinbad, Betty Brunton and the gang! So hurry along to the Brunton!
The Brunton Theatre Presents “Sinbad The Pantomime”, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Runs until Saturday 31str December 2022, For further info go to https://www.thebrunton.co.uk/en-GB/shows/sinbad%20the%20pantomime/events