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Profile on: Forbes Masson

Forbes is one of Scotland’s most celebrated and respected contemporary playwrights, renowned for his celebratory silly style and fantastic, cartoon-like characters.  A writer of pantomime, his work was on stage over Christmas 2004 in his new show, Aladdie.

Forbes' works past and present

Forbes Masson, the Falkirk-born writer, actor and director has various credits to his name. 

Well known for his series of Scottish musicals, Forbes penned and composed music for:

• Stiff!; First produced 1999; the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
• Mince?; First produced 2001; Dundee Rep Theatre
• Pants!; First produced 2002; Dundee Rep Theatre

Forbes’ style has proven well suited to pantomime.  He has written versions of: 

• Cinderella; first staged 1992, updated in 2003 at the Tron, Glasgow
• Jack and the Beanstalk; 2003; the Tron, Glasgow
• Aladdie; 2004; the Tron, Glasgow

Frances Thorburn and Laurie McNicoll in Cinderella; Photo: Kevin Low

He has also been active in television as a writer and a performer.  He wrote The High Life in 1994, and performed in

• Combing the fringe; 1987
• My Dead Dad; 1992
• The High Life; 1994

As well as launching his pantomime, Aladdie, Forbes is currently performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Core Ensemble.  In the Tragedies season, Forbes plays Horatio in Hamlet and the porter in Macbeth.

Read more about Shakespearean theatre production in the features archive

Writing style

Daniel Demetrius Knee (George Drennan) in Cinderella; Photo: Kevin Low

‘NOBODY writes pantomimes quite like Forbes Masson. All pantos play with the conventions of the genre to some extent, but Masson turns them inside out and upside down; you sense he has even more fun writing them than his delighted audiences have watching them.’ 

(The Scotsman, 6 November 2004)

The classic tales are brought into a modern day and relevant setting through plot twists, and are given an injection of Masson’s ‘slightly twisted sense of humour’.  The scripts also refer to Scottish life and people in the jokes and language.

Masson 'takes the traditional form, twirls it around and brings it back less tacky, more fun and with lots of opportunities for actors to shine at over the top but still watchable acting'. (EdinburghGuide.com)  Masson’s elaborate style was noted in his series of musicals, Stiff!, Mince? And Pants! Panto's institutions such as cross-dressing and slapstick matches the extravagance naturally.  Its prevailing element of fun also allows for limitless updating and adaptation.

While his jokes may be written with the ‘Pop-Idol’ generation in mind, Forbes’ writing is for anyone who likes something out of the ordinary whether adult, child or anyone in between.


* Theme - Pantomime
* Focus on - the Tron Theatre
Related links
* Royal Lyceum Theatre
* Dundee Rep Theatre
* The Tron Theatre
* Royal Shakespeare Company
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