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The Pied Piper (Liverpool)

Carole Baldock likes the fact that The Liverpool Unity's Pied Piper treats the audience with respect

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

"Is that a pipe in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?" is the kind of thing you would never ever hear in a panto – oh no you wouldn't. And the Unity, after all, is known for the moral of the tale, and the originality of its adaptations.

The Pied Piper
© Unity

OK, maybe a bit of tampering with the ending of the story about the Rattenfänger, and poor little Orphan Annie kind of thing rather than the usual lonely boy, but this is one seasonal production which always delivers the goods: charming, inventive and completely heart-warming, mastering the art of entertaining the entire family.

Basic scenery and costumes are put to good use with various ingenious touches: the video backdrop and coat rack for props may be virtually inevitable but the bonus is in the detail, for example, the village of Hamelin cunningly represented by a large mobile. Plus brilliant songs, whether jaunty or poignant, with music which is, of course, most enticing.

The cast on the whole are exceptional, with laurels for a hilarious gruesome twosome: super slick mayor (Nathan Smith) and his dozy sidekick, Slime (Emma Hirons). However, while James Michael Doolan does appear other-wordly as the Piper, he occasionally gives the impression of trying too hard, though the rest of the cast slip easily into their various roles: first rats, then villagers, mad scientists and so on; Edwina Lea is most appealing in the pivotal role of the orphan, with a lovely singing voice.

A genuine Christmas treat, the message as ever: you must not miss this magical show.

The Pied Piper is at the Unity in Liverpool until 11th January.

- Carole Baldock