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Delightful show has all the right ingredients

Puss in Boots, Priory Theatre, Kenilworth, to Dec 30.

Having spent most of the day watching the pantomime taking place in Westminster, it was a pleasure to go to the opening night of a real one in Kenilworth. The difference was that this panto contained plenty of jokes and, as is the way with pantomime, the cornier and more predictable they were, the more we all seemed to enjoy them. The plot is an enchanting update of the ancient European fairytale and has particularly hideous baddies in the form of a giant ogre and the dastardly Baron Bombastic. In this version they are unscrupulous developers planning to flatten a village and start fracking for shale gas. The hen-pecked King Cuthbert Crumble and his daughter Princess Apricot are powerless to stop them and the local matriarch Dame Daisy Donut and her son Billy find themselves penniless and unable to even pay their rent. The only hope for the downtrodden villagers comes in the unlikely form of their remarkable cat. The production is fast-paced, superbly directed and contains some remarkably acrobatic dancing and tuneful singing. The main cast all give strong performances and the youthful chorus are a delight to watch. All the usual pantomime ingredients are there including some slapstick and plenty of audience participation. This was lapped up by the children in the audience while many of the more subtle innuendos and references to topical events brought smiles to the faces of the adults. Wondering if pantos might have had their day in this digital age. I took a member of the younger generation with me. And Francesca’s verdict: The singing and dancing was "brilliant" and it was "great fun", much better than watching the telly or a DVD. I wouldn’t disagree with any of that. There were one or two small hitches and pauses but these can probably be put down to first night nerves. There was a far happier ending to this panto than there is likely to be in the one I’d been watching earlier. Perhaps our PM should take the advice of the audience and “Look behind You”! Well done Priory Theatre. The run is already nearly sold out, and I’m sure the audiences will feel they’ve had value for money.

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