Arts Review: Miracle on 34 Parnie Street

Dir. Johnny McKnight, Tron, 28th November ’14 – 4th January ’15

When T.J. Confuse advertise for a santa, Kristine Kringle wasn’t exactly who they had in mind. Loud-mouthed and possibly loopy, she’s also, well, a she… And to boot, she claims to be the real santa! Eschewing the usual fairytale pantomime fare, Johnny McKnight returns to the Tron with a modern interpretation of the classic christmas film. Complete with fat suits and satire, this subversive Glesga panto with a social conscience ticks all the right boxes for the king of Scottish pantomime.

With a cast of only six, the ensemble pieces have a lot to live up to. The opening number lacks some of the high-impact openings can have, with the lyrics, which are its strength, lost at times. This is a theme that continues, as while the musical numbers are lyrically on point, with the exception of a quick blast of ‘Anaconda’, there are none of the big music hits of the year which stick in your head once the show is over.

Once McKnight’s dame enters the scene however, making the audience shrink into their seats through fear of her fashion scrutiny or advertising just how much wine they’ve got through ten minutes into the show, energy all round whizzes into hyper-drive. Keeping the cast on their toes with quick quips based on any little stutter, McKnight ensures that the show will have its own unique in-jokes and energy each night.

Meanwhile Gavin Wright as Snoozy is not only utterly adorable, but also versatile and engaging, looking after the audience members who are victimised (sorry, honoured) by being brought up on stage. Michelle Chantelle Hopewell makes a charming professional debut, though her role as a disengaged shop-assistant and sassy Judge Justice Justified is at times problematically stereotypical. Similarly, the love story conjured up between her and Snoozy’s mum, doesn’t pack the same socio-political punch it could have done with an organic growth throughout the show, rather than at a wave of Kringle’s hand to grant little Snoozy’s wish that his mum find love.

The show however does keep me breathless with laughter, and at times I wonder whether the children are as entertained as the “grown-ups” present. Every time I think this however, two minutes of fart jokes dispel any notion that the show might not know its audience. And when the audience are asked whether santa really can be a woman, not one person declines to stand and proclaim, ‘I believe!’ Not only does McKnight know his audience, but also hope, and the magic of Christmas.

[Caitlin MacColl – @turningtoaverse]

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