Pantomime Season

There is some debate as to when pantomimes actually began: some historians say that they were introduced to England in the early 18th century, others reckon that it wasn't until 1804 when Cinderella was performed at Dury Lane, London. Regardless, Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without a trip to the pantomime. And, if you're in Edinburgh for the festive season, there's quite a choice.

The daddy of them all is the annual Kings Theatre panto which this year is ... Cinderella! It's probably fair to say that it is far removed from the version staged in London 207 years ago but if it's traditional 'boo', 'hiss' entertainment that you're after then this is the one for you. Allan Stewart, Andy Gray & Grant Stott are past masters at this stuff and you won't be disappointed.

Down the road at the Royal Lyceum Theatre is Beauty and the Beast. The original story of girl meets beast, love blossoms, beast turns into boy has been embellished with the addition of two ugly sisters (played by the distinctly un-ugly Nicola Dunbar & Karen Traynor). If this is anything like last year's Snow Queen - also written by children's playwright Stuart Paterson- this is sure to be fun if slightly lest raucous than the Kings panto.

It would be a surprise if the Traverse were ever to stage a pantomime but instead they have two Christmas shows. For the very young there is the Lost Sock Princess. Intriguingly there is an 'informal sock workshop' prior to each performance. For adults there is a new play by Jo Clifford: The Tree of Knowledge. It's an interesting concept with philosopher David Hume and economist Adam Smith waking up in 21st century Edinburgh. Certainly there will be few custard pies in this show but a nice touch from the Trav to have something intellectually stimulating at Christmas.

Further afield Edinburgh People's Theatre are doing Mother Goose at the Churchill Theatre in Morningside and Aladdin is on at the Brunton in Musselburgh.

So, something for everyone. 'Oh no there isn't!' Oh yes there most certainly is.

© Mark Howitt for Pilrig 74