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Theatre Review: Beauty and the Beast--Byre Theatre ****

Joy Watters reviews a festive show that 'offers a tasty soft-centred treat packed full of nuts'.

Tis the season to be merry and pick yourself a show from the veritable selection box of festive entertainment. The Byre offers a tasty soft-centred treat packed full of nuts.

Yes, Glasgow-based theatre company Bard in the Botanics has taken up festive residence in St Andrews. This is the fifth year the team has brought its own blend of traditional panto featuring one of the best Dames around.

Written and directed by Gordon Barr, it’s a show that perfectly fits the confines of the Byre. It wraps itself around the audience, telling the tale of Beauty and the Beast, the French fairy tale brought to a wider audience earlier this year in the Disney live action film, a re-make of its 1991 animation.

This has a different twist, as our heroine Belle goes to the Beast’s castle to rescue her mother Bunty Bahookie. Kirsty Findlay’s Belle is a thoroughly modern young woman, brave and determined, she takes no nonsense.

Alan Steele’s Bunty is a gem, whether scripted or ad libbing, leading the cast in the laughter charge ably assisted by Robert Elkin’s Valentine. It is a family panto, and there’s nothing too scary for the wee ones. James Siggens’ Beast is an angry galloping Geordie until his transformation, while baddie Belladonna Nightshade is hilariously histrionic in Stephanie McGregor’s playing.

All set against Carys Hobbs’ colourful design, the message is that love is all important, aah, whoever you love. An energetic youth cast gives solid support to the six professionals in this yuletide entertainment that has something for all ages.

Runs at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews until December 31.

Tags: theatre

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