Less like a professional pantomime cast and more like a group of kids have been let loose with the dressing-up box, national treasure Berwick Kaler, takes to the stage as a wonderfully flamboyant dame in this, his 33rd annual pantomime in York. With bright, colourful sets, rousing music, a warm rapport with the audience and lines like ‘Don’t bury me at sea – I can’t swim!’, this tale of Robin of Sherwood quickly disintegrates into chaos as carrots take on an inexplicably prominent role.

In this ‘little local pantomime’, the technical hitches become an integral part of the fun, and Kaler, the UK’s longest-serving dame, is a mesmerising delight, leading the audience and his often bewildered cast through a joyful evening of fun, laughter and downright silliness. At one point amidst the slapstick, Kaler cries ‘Remind me, son, what panto are we doing this year?’ The chorus are vivacious, the dance routines fun and the children’s performances focused and clear, providing a superb foil to York panto regulars Martin Barrass (One Man Two Guvnors), Suzy Cooper and Siān Howard in this colourful, pacey Christmas show that is sure to warm the heart.

Robin Hood and his Merry Mam runs at York Theatre Royal until 2 Feb, 2013.