Harburn Village Hall - Panto 2014

For a couple of years, it looked as though intense competition from Strictly Come Dancing might put paid to the Harburn Pantomine. But in the end, the good folk of Harburn rallied round, and realised that their less glitzy rival had nothing much to offer when set against the sheer glamour, humour, and first class tunes of the traditional offering.

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And so it was that when the curtain opened – a wee bit jerkily – on 'Robin Hood and his band of Merry Persons', the normal order of the universe was restored. But this was a production packed with existential angst – for how could Robin, played with verve by Nicola Tuxworth – possibly justify robbing Sandra Dobson? It wasn't possible, and the more the Merry Persons argued, the less loot they accumulated. Meanwhile, the scarily evil Phil Tuxworth, Sheriff of Livingston, sporting a wig last seen at a Beatles tribute act, plotted to thwart his daughter, in cahoots with ingenue newcomer Edingell Thomson as Conker the sidekick, to the accompaniment of some seriously villainous laughter. Plus, he kept his other daughter, Maid Marion (Katie Laird) locked in her room. No one was quite sure why, but Katie proved wonderfully melancholic about it.

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The solution to all the conundrums was provided by Molly the Housekeeper, thinly disguised as George Stott, in a cameo role which made up in sheer sex appeal for what it lacked in wearing bloomers without embarrassment. The sex appeal moved into Shades of Grey territory in the culminating scene, where numerous feather dusters were deployed, to the enjoyment of all.

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Throughout, continuity was assured by the lugubrious minstrel, David Dobson, whose home-made lyrics wryly commented on the chaos reigning backstage. A very solemn mini-minstrel (Isabel Nicol) kept David to time with a nicely wielded rattly thing. There also appeared to be a spider (Kate Doyle) a fat Friar (Ashley Watson Bowman) and a king (John Bowman) – though quite where they fitted in remained unclear to this reviewer. Except, obviously, it all ended happily.
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How director Maggie Gray kept her sanity in cajoling her motley cast, who knows. But she did (just) and with the usual stalwart effort by set designers, costumes persons, make-up artists and others, ensured that the Harburn Pantomine once again placed its unmistakeable stamp on the festive season. ADL Words: ADL ; Photos JB