theatre review: Miracle on 34 Parnie Street (tron theatre)

Miracle on 34 Parnie Street
Miracle on 34 Parnie Street

There’s nothing safe about Miracle on 34 Parnie Street - the latest festive offering from the wonderful Johnny McKnight at the Tron Theatre.

Taking the magical Hollywood film Miracle on 34th Street and transposing it to a closure-threatened Glasgow department store is one thing. But replacing the kindly white-bearded Kris Kringle with a filthy-mouthed man-crazy cross-dressing Kristine Kringle (played by McKnight, who also writes and directs) could have been a risk too far.

That it succeeds on every level is down to a uniformly high quality script which achieves the holy grail of panto - keeping all ages entertained without making a single concession to anybody or anything (including decency!).

Wisely, the story is left almost untouched. A mysterious red-coated stranger is hired as a department store Santa before claiming to be the real thing, being sent to the asylum and given a day in court to prove the unprovable.

Kristine herself is a thoroughly modern panto dame, referencing Nicki Minaj one minute before launching into a showstopping multi-lingual song about the allures of Glasgow’s Savoy Shopping Centre.

The required baddy comes courtesy of Darren Brownlie’s moustache-twirling turn as wicked store manager Mr Bellhammer, while Michelle Chantelle Hopewell adds some serious singing heft with her goosebump-inducing voice.

The cast is completed by Gavin Jon Wright as a youngster magically turned into a legal eagle, a multi-character accent surfing turn from Julie Wilson Nimmo, and Geig Adam as the understudy keen to steal every scene he can.

All are superb, though none can hold a candle to the force of nature that is Kristine. Whether she’s singing, dancing, or simply chatting to the audience, she’s perfection.

Add in some cutting insights into the sexual politics of 2014, a great series of local jokes, and a subtly subversive ending, and you have true Christmas miracle.