“Oh no!” yells the kid behind me, flopping heavily back into his seat as the curtain comes down for the interval. Having shouted himself hoarse throughout the first act, he can barely contemplate a 15-minute interruption to his fun. The frazzled dad beside me, meanwhile, jerks from a fitful sleep and leaves his wife to deal with his over-stimulated small fry while he makes a beeline for the bar.
And there you have what you can expect from this high-speed, high-colour extension to the pantomime season. Unlike a traditional panto, Scooby-Doo and the Pirate Ghost offers no extra layer of double entendre or ironic in-jokes to the adults who grew up with Scooby and his groovy teenage chums. But kids will lap up every minute of seeing their favourite cartoon brought faithfully to three-dimensional life before their eyes.
The plot, as ever, concerns holiday-makers being scared away from a tourist resort, in this case by the ghost of a sword-brandishing pirate queen, lustily played by Sarah Chamberlain. The investigation by our heroes largely consists of hairy-scary chases through haunted hotels and spooky swamps.
As a follow-up to last year’s Scooby show, Stagefright, this is more of the same, but that is exactly what its young audience wants and it’s ably delivered by a British cast who step so easily into the shoes of the American originals that you won’t notice the difference.
Matthew Bloxham, in his first stage role, is particularly entertaining as Scooby’s best pal, Shaggy.