This retelling of ‘The Snow Queen’ has some surprises in store. Exit frozen-hearted Kay. Exit innocent-but-brave Gerda. Enter Kristine ‘Cagney’ Kringle (Johnny McKnight), reindeers Rudolph (Darren Brownlie) and Olive (Julie Wilson Nimmo), their elfish cohort, and even Elvis (Christopher Jordan-Marshall) with glitters.
This is Santa/Kristine’s workshop, on the eve of Christmas day, and we are in Johnny McKnight’s Snaw Queen, which does not really bother with the particulars of Andersen’s tale. The Queen is none other than Rudolf himself, gone full Lady Gaga in a shiny suit after his encounter with a malefic mirror. Her evil sidekick is a penguin (Jordan-Marshall).
When the Queen threatens to cancel Christmas, Kristine has no choice but to embark on a quest, assisted by the shy, but resourceful reindeer Olive. Love and courage will conquer all, but first Olive, Kristine and their friends will have to defeat an old lady, a cowboy, and even the Prince and Princess of Partick. The story is delivered at frantic pace, in an eddy of glitter and catchy tunes, also featuring some nice sung interludes in the dark. A lovely addition is Kara Swinney’s melodious soprano.
The production finds its – crazy – tempo for good in its second half. I found it a bit hard to warm up to at first. It is easy to get sidetracked from the quest by the abundance of slightly random secondary characters, but well-placed meta-jokes and political wisecracks throughout make up for the wonkiness of the scenario. The dame is suitably loud and flirty, strutting around the stage in disco outfits and flaunting her bouncy bosom, turkey-like thighs and plumed bottom. Louise McCarthy enthusiastically goes through a lot of different roles, from a sanguinary witch to a swanky aristocrat and even a short-lived bunny. The set is as Christmassy as you can wish, with shiny curtains and red paint all over. Apart from one crying toddler, it was hard to find a single child not cheering in the room. Take your children to this panto and get your share of festive glitter!