Not a great fan of the panto, I was pleasantly surprised by Theatre Royal Plymouth's Christmas offering of Robin Hood. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The inexhaustible Bobby Davro is great value as Will Scarlet (and Ozzy Osbourne, Sir Cliff, Kenny kangaroo and many more) as his rapid fire jokes and impressions hit the target with adults and youngsters alike.
Nigel Havers (Chariots of Fire, Lunch Monkeys, Coronation Street etc) deftly sheds his charming persona to make a convincing evil Sheriff, eliciting plenty of hisses and "Oh no you don'ts" as his dastardly plans are thwarted by the Merry Men and their hangers-on.
In a welcome change from the thigh-slapping girl in tights, Robin is played by the rather gorgeous Lee Mead (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wicked) complete with curly mop and a rendition of "Any Dream Will Do".
Hi De Hi stalwart Jeffrey Holland is Dame Tilly Tuck, ESPN Talk of the Terrace presenter Maria Coyne Maid Marion and Katrina Murphy (ubiquitous operetta, musical theatre and corporate entertainer) The Spirit of Sherwood.
Edward Court and Norton James complete the cast as the enthusiastic duo Little John and Alan A Dale while the local dance troupe and Babes provide gloss, high kicks and backing vocals. Excellent.
Keyboard player Shaun Critten conducts the Theatre Royal Plymouth Orchestra providing lively effects as well as music.
With great special effects by The Twins FX – particularly Webster the ever-larger, flying spider - this is a most entertaining evening for young and old alike – slick, funny and all-inclusive.
Robin Hood is at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth until 25 January 2014