The “giant Pompey panto” is off to a fabulous flyer with a fantastic evening of laughs, fun, music, magic and total nonsense.
Jack Edwards, wonderful as ever as the dame, and the team have set the bar remarkably high for all the pantomimes that are yet to open.
And it’s difficult to believe many of them are going to come remotely close to this one – a pantomime full of joy, exuberance and complete silliness, the perfect way to end a horribly difficult year.
What always takes a pantomime to the next level is when you sense that the cast are having as much fun as the audience is. And in this one, they are having a blast – every bit as much as we are.
As usual, it’s Jack Edwards who sets the tone – a magnificent dame, quick-witted, great at involving the audience, man-hunting and wickedly funny. He’s a one-man riot – and the rest of the cast happily follow.
James Percy is his perfect partner in crime in the silly Billy role; and Sean Smith (X Factor finalists Same Difference) is the perfect leading man, just slightly more sensible – and unsurprisingly, a terrific singer.
Holding her own amid the chaos is Worthing-born Love Island star Amy Hart making her professional stage debut – and she charms in the role of the princess.
The painted sets are impressive; the giant doesn’t disappoint; and the ensemble offer some lovely dancing.
With a running time of pretty much two and three quarter hours including the interval, there’s certainly value for money and an awful lot packed in, but possibly, just possibly, it might prove maybe 15 minutes too long for the very youngest members of the audience.
As for the rest of us, this is a panto to savour, panto absolutely as it ought to be.