Robin Hood And The Babes In The Wood, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto, by Peter Rowe, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until January 28

Robin’s men weren’t the only ones feeling merry after last night’s show. This fast and furious fusion of live music and traditional panto fun really hit the mark.

Thief Robin - who even tried to steal my drink during the second half - must outwit the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and free the babes and their outrageous Nanny, Nellie Nightnurse before he can even think about marrying the beautiful Maid Marion.

There were plenty of topical gags; Sioned Saunders and Sophie Byrne played babes Britney and Whitney (snap, snap, snap, growl) as if they’d escaped The Only Way is Essex and Twitter got a forest makeover.

From funny falls for the youngsters to some near the knuckle jokes for the adults - one in particular, involving henchman Numbskull’s fears of being thrown off the tower drew silence then guilty guffawing - there are loads of laughs for all the family.

Then there’s the music, with the actor-musicians rocking out to more than 20 classic songs from I Shot the Sheriff to Girls Just Want To Have Fun.


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The cast were clearly having as much fun as we were; especially when it went - ever so occasionally - wrong.

Nanny Nellie - Will Kenning - was the first to capitalise on these moments; everybody fell about laughing when he couldn’t escape his prison chains as fast as the scene was moving along, prompting some slow-motion line delivery.

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Singling people out is like splitting the thinnest of hairs. Shirley Darroch as Marion had an amazing voice and Tim Jackson as Numbskull was hilarious, I’ll never be able to listen to Hard to Handle without smiling. But everybody was great.

This isn’t a panto, it’s a party. There are still tickets available but they’re going fast.

WAYNE SAVAGE

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