Little Mermaid finds her voice

Kara Swinney as The Little Mermaid at the Macrobert Arts Centre
Kara Swinney as The Little Mermaid at the Macrobert Arts Centre

Jam-packed with jokes, the laughs come in shoals in Macrobert’s fin-tastic production of The Little Mermaid.

The witty script is razor sharp, the performances exuberant and the production looks wonderful, from costumes to choreography.

The star of the show is, of course, Johnny McKnight, who also wrote and directed it. Here’s a man who knows how to work an audience, playing both Queen Marina and her tentacled, evil sister Ursula with evident relish.

Always ready with an improvised quip, he can be outrageous, to the delight of the women in the audience and terror of the men.

But he’s far from selfish as a performer and many of the laughs are given to the fantastic duo of Dawn Sievewright as mermaid Ariana and Robert Jack as the hapless merman Daz. They both have a tremendous ease on stage and a brilliant rapport with the audience.

The other stars offer equally enjoyable performances - actress Kara Swinney, from Polmont, shines as Ariel, The Little Mermaid. It would be sad, of course, for anyone to lose their voice, but when it is as outstanding as Kara’s it’s a real tragedy.

Miguel Belotto as Pirate Percy and Helen McAlpine (as Ursula’s wicked sidekick Samsara and Pirate captain Priscilla)also offer brilliant support, with very funny physical performances.

Full marks also go to the young cast, who match the professionals for spirited, polished performances.

It’s a production that has a real fairytale story at its heart and it does full justice to the classic without descending into whimsy, while staying firmly in the 21st century with up-to-the-minute songs and dance routines that get the place jumping.

Panto might get bigger than this - but it doesn’t get any better.

The Little Mermaid is at the Macrobert Centre Stirling until Sunday, January 3. Macrobert Centre