The Sleeping Beauty (Watford – panto)
Andrew Pollard's take on "The Sleeping Beauty" sets the first half of the story in the late 19th century
We are introduced to the story of The Sleeping Beauty by the OTT Fairy Fashionista (Sheena Patel) and the equally aptly named Arachnia (Erica Guyatt) – if you're allergic to spiders, this is an immortal you're best advised to keep at a safe distance.
King Calico (Walter van Dyk) is, of course, determined to keep his only child the Princess Rose (Jill McAusland) safe from spindles and other pointed instruments until her 18th birthday has passed.
Whether her old nurse Donna Kebab (Terence Frisch) and the boisterous dog Darrnit (Oliver Longstaff) will be a match for Arachnia's sidekick Incy-Wincy (a silvery oversized spider to be treated with respect) is another matter.
Then there's Prince Alexander (Obioma Ugoala), a wandering royal with a taste for mechanical and electronic invention. He fixes the palace kitchen (more or less – cue for the slop scene) but Calico objects to his devices. Particularly when he suffers from the pie-making machine...
In proper Doctor Who style, Alexander has also invented a time machine. So, for the second half, we're in the late 1970s. Ugoala and McAusland cope well with both the more traditional first-act numbers and the rock-orientated songs and dance routines of the second half.
Direction is by Brigid Lamour and Shona Morris with attractive sets and costumes by Cleo Pettitt. Chris Peake is the musical director. It's a pantomime which makes its variation of the familiar story sufficiently intriguing to keep both adult and child attention firmly concentrated on what is going to happen next.
The Sleeping Beauty runs at the Palace Theatre, Watford until 27 December.