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Allan Stewart's Big Big Variety Show

King's Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars
It's telling that King's panto stalwart Allan Stewart's final solo number of his two-hour top light entertainment extravaganza is accompanied by a series of projected images of his colourful show-business back pages. It's even more so that the images give way to a pictorial roll-call of bygone comedy greats. As Stewart does an impression of each, it's as if he's taking stock, not just of his own successful career that has seen him make the move from club turn to TV star to panto legend, but of a bygone form that refuses to lie down and die.

By drafting in his yuletide sparring partners, Andy Gray and Grant Stott, Stewart can play with their comedic chemistry further, while vintage-styled female sextet, The Tootsie Rollers, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin and Britain's Got Talent graduate Edward Reid make up a full and versatile supporting cast. There is also a big-voiced star turn from Kate Stewart, daughter of the show's eponymous head-liner himself.

As Stewart croons his way into proceedings, he's usurped by Gray and Stott with a running gag about Stott's That's Fife song. The Tootsie Rollers apply a glamorous Andrews Sisters spin on the work of Britney and Kylie, though a version of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines remains as unreconstructed as some of the gags elsewhere. Reid's defining evocation of pop divas singing nursery rhymes more than compensates, as does Stewart's impression of Michael Jackson doing George Formby songs. Best of all is a routine that casts Stewart, Gray and Stott as entendre-heavy musical trio, The MacRobert Brothers. Folk in hell indeed in a packed-out evening of fun and frolics.

The Herald, March 7th 2014


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