Of course, for many people there’s only one – well, two, excuses to bob along, and that’s the double act of Adam Keast and Francis Tucker in their usual roles as the weedy king and panto queen respectively.
“I’d watch two hours of them just mugging at each other and making bum jokes,” mused one critic after the show last night. And it’s true – the grown up audience who goes along without children could certainly do without the naff ballads and annoying obligatory twee romances, although young lovers Sarah Vezmar and Matthew Wycliffe were likeable enough as Princess Ruby and Prince Ned (don’t they call the lead Ruby every year so they can shoehorn in the Kaiser Chiefs song?).
Although a few VIPs last night said they thought this year’s offering didn’t compare to previous, I thought it fared much better than last year’s, which if memory serves really dragged and never seemed to end. Sleeping Beauty is the right length, just (maybe five minutes could be shaved off each hour-long act – panto tells such a by-the-book tale, surely keeping it brief is the key?), funny enough thanks to Keast and Tucker’s usual messing about, and parades some of the best costumes I’ve seen there yet. It is great fun.
But if there’s one thing that must be remembered, it’s that nobody is really doing this for the grown up audience or the VIPs (although there’s plenty of fierce double entendre), and the children there last night were certainly having a fantastic time. No further dissection required – at this time of year a happy audience is surely testament enough.