Bringing His Majesty’s out of the dark after a bleak 18-months needed something bright, boisterous and fun that captures the essence of Aberdeen.
Which is exactly what Freezin delivered in an evening packed with music, dance, laughter and – above all else – an absolute love of the Granite City.
This was a double celebration, too, the first show at HMT since the pandemic started and the 100th anniversary of the Aberdeen Student Show.
Little wonder that it felt like a party was going on in a packed His Majesty’s – albeit with hand-sanitisers and masks the order of the evening.
There is a reason student show has survived for a century – it’s just good, knockabout fun. It has its Doric tongue firmly in its cheek, but its eye firmly on the familiar institutions of Aberdeen as targets for its irreverent “from the headlines” humour.
Delightfully risque sense of humour
Freezin – loosely based on Frozen, very loosely – kept up that tradition with pelters aimed at everyone from the cooncil to the local press (thanks chaps) to the Dons.
The scriptwriters clearly have a love of puns, whiskery gags and a delightfully risque sense of humour. Some jokes drew a “did they really just say that” along with belly laughs. I never thought I’d hear the coconut dog punchline on stage again in my lifetime. Excellent.
There is a clever plot – who thought you’d end up cheering seagulls – but it’s incidental to the knockabout fun and the big musical numbers with witty pastiches of popular songs. If you only see one show with a Busby Berkley routine in a fish house, make it this one.
The real joy of the student show, though, is the talent on stage, with a large ensemble cast. At times it’s easy to forget those are all amateurs up there – students who rehearsed for the show in a public car park to get round social distancing restrictions.
Audience erupted into cheers and applause
Any one of the frontline cast could give up their studies and make a decent fist of a career on stage. Special praise to Becky Hossick as Elsie who turns out to not just have great comic timing, but a belter of a voice. And Mikey Innes makes an excellent baddie as Marischal Squire. He even had the audience booing, panto-stylee.
Meanwhile, I had to check the programme to make sure they hadn’t sneaked on actual old folk to play Granny and Granda, but Alanna Buchan and Connor Forsyth really are newly-graduated students. They were the perfect comic double act, essaying the bickering Aberdonian couples we all know and love with some of the best lines in the show.
When the finale arrived, the audience erupted into cheers, thunderous applause and got up to dance along. Looking around the packed theatre, it was as if Covid hadn’t happened.
Job done student show and welcome back His Majesty’s.
Freezin runs at His Majesty’s until Saturday. For details and tickets visit www.aberdeenperformingarts.com
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