Ahhhh, The Lyceum Christmas Show is upon us once again and Tony Cownie and his regular core of performers have taken the right decision of NOT descending into pantomime, because the Lyceum doesn’t do panto. You’ll get that at The Kings.
Instead what he has cleverly done is merged the stories of Greyfriar’s Bobby with Dickens’ perennial favourite, thus giving it a life of its own and a new reason to visit a story that we can all probably recite in our sleep.
And it works a treat.
Bobby is a central character and Cownie gets round the problem of teaching dogs to act by making him (and Tiny Tim) puppets adding a further dimension to an already novel take on the novel. It’s charming and the puppeteers invest real sympathy into Tiny Tim’s character and zest, bounce and good comedy into Bobby’s.
And because the cast includes Nicola Roy, Steve McNicoll and Grant O’Rourke (pulling off an impressive 13 roles between them and a flurry of costumes) it’s hilarious, with Nicola Roy getting the lion’s share of tasty one-liners. They often feel familiar but are mostly, in fact, new.
He knows his way around a gag does Tony Cownie. “Aye [Scrooge], he’s so mean if he found a crutch in the street he’d go home and break his leg.” (Which reminds me of an old favourite of mine: A man sees that dog food is half price in the supermarket, turns to his wife and says “We must buy a dog.”)
Crawford Logan takes the lead as the humbugerous Ebenezer Scrooge and carries the part off with aplomb, transforming beautifully from miser to philanthropist at the drop of a hat.
It barrels along, not allowing any particular sequence to outstay its welcome. The Ghost of Christmas Past sequence is particularly eye-catching and good for the storytelling, Eva Traynor is strong in the role in a spectacular green costume.
It’s all done and dusted by 9pm so time for a few seasonal libations. Merry Christmas.