Christmas is well and truly on the way – the Above The Stag gay adult panto is back, and this year’s offering is the best yet. Oh yes it is…
Rapidly establishing itself as a highlight of the festive calendar, the Stag panto has already become the stuff of legend – and Beaty on the Piste has managed to uphold the level of quality that we’ve come to expect from this womb of LGBT theatre, and possibly even exceed it. In our opinion this is the finest script to date from writing duo Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper – packed with outrageous filth and gags-a-plenty, whilst also unafraid to tackle the odd hot-potato issue here and there.
Morag Trump and her son Mac, disappointed by the EU vote, have left Scotland and relocated to the Swiss resort of Les de Nice, and are making a go of it running a tearoom with the help of local beauty, and boy-slut, Beau. Meanwhile, a neighbouring nobleman must attempt to undo a curse that has transformed him into a beast, by falling in true love – and getting that true love to top him…
The usual shenanigans ensue – some more unexpected than others – and in amongst the cascading campery and outré obscenity are all the traditional components – a dazzling dame, an audience singalong, catapulted confectionary… There are villains to boo and heroes to cheer. This is pure panto joy, appropriately adulterated with saucy slapstick and sexy sinfulness.
Leading a superbly talented cast are Joshua Oakes-Rogers as Beau and Jamie Coles as the Beast. Oakes-Rogers gives us a precise portrayal as the gayest and sluttiest of slutty gay sluts – openly confessing that the last vagina he saw was the one from which he emerged – and demonstrates an uncanny ability to discharge cheeky asides and winsome winks that give the audience a true sense of involvement – we all end up rooting for Beau. And Coles’ Beast is a proudly strutting creation that makes us all want to be the one to tame him – animalistic artistry from a theriomorphic thespian.
Also very much catching our eye is Ross Tucker, here making his professional stage debut as Mac – the young, dumb, muscular Scot. Tucker is effortlessly amusing and eminently watchable, clad as he is in what can only be described as ‘fetish tartan’ – complete with skimpy sporran. And David Moss, as his mother Morag, gives us a startlingly superb dame that had us rolling in the aisles with her prudish protestations – the merest hint of a gawk at her norks inducing tizzy fits that betray a hidden horniness – the lady dost protest too much!
Ellen Butler is priceless as Heidi – the lesbian servant cursed to change into a different household object every hour – as entertaining as a bog-brush as she is as a teapot, and Briony Rawle enchants as the not-so-magical fairy who nevertheless wins our hearts. Simon Burr, as Sebastian – the posh-totty property developer – is a proper villain to boo and jeer, albeit one that’s rather easy-on-the-eye.
The set – by David Shields – is, as always, a soaring triumph – a clever puzzle-box of a design that presents us with far more locations than should even be possible for a venue of this size – sheer brilliance. (And that’s not even mentioning the ‘penis-fly-trap’…) Lighting by Jamie Platt enhances the magic and adds to the alchemy – at points gifting the actors apparent halos of beauty.
Don’t be put off by memories of sterile dreary panto from childhood – this is a rip-roaring joy-fest that keeps the pace, the gags, and the plot all rotating simultaneously, like a camp, juggling, Christmas octopus. Director Andrew Beckett and the team have achieved something incredibly special here – a real treat to kick-start Christmas and the New Year. Unmissable mischief.
GT gives Beauty on the Piste — 5/5
Beauty on the Piste runs at Above the Stag Theatre until 14 January. abovethestag.com.