Panto review: Beauty And The Beast, Byre Theatre, St Andrews.

Beauty & The Beast at the Byre Theatre (pic by Viktoria Begg)
Beauty & The Beast at the Byre Theatre (pic by Viktoria Begg)

So, the Christmas season is now well underway – oh, yes it is! – and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Let’s face it, once panto season begins you know that Santa can’t be far away and coming up trumps yet again is the Byre Theatre in St Andrews.

It’s the fifth panto produced by Bard At the Botanics and happy to report, the team behind the production are far from running out of steam.

This year Beauty And The Beast was chosen to get the full-on panto treatment and it proves once to a hugely entertaining experience.

In the far away land of Fantasia the handsome Prince Adam is cursed by a witch for his selfishness and vanity, the spell only to be broken by true love’s kiss.

Watched over by the tale’s narrator, the fairy Valentine, the Beast must find his true love or Fantasia is doomed and Valentine will die.

Enter our panto dame, Bunty Bahookie, mother of the beautiful Belle, who is imprisoned by the Beast in his castle.

But! Belle offers to take her mother’s place and Valentine sees that it’s his chance to make the pair fall in love.

Not so fast! Determined to block the path of true love is the evil witch Belladonna Nightshade who wants to see Fantasia fall under her wicked command and has in tow Belle’s former friend, Gaston.

So now the story is set the fun can begin and probably the best thing about this production comes quickly to the fore from the off – just how funny it is.

The script manages to be hilarious, smart, self-depricating and corny all at once and is helped along by the uniformly excellent performances from all.

Stephanie McGregor is a standout as Belladonna and quite happy to go along with jokes poking fun at her diminutive stature , but perhaps best of all is the quite marvellous chemistry between Robert Elkin as Valentine and Alan Steele as Bunty.

The pair have worked together for a number of years now and it shows. Just a smirk or a knowing look between the two can quickly dissolve the audience into fits of laughter

So jokes – lots and lots of them – silly songs, singalongs, colour, bags of energy and little kids going demented with excitement in the audience.

What more do you want from a pantomime?

Beauty And The Beast runs until December 31.