It doesn’t matter that this production blends two fairytales into one - for a pantomime the storyline is actually fairly clear. There is a young audience in on opening night, who surely appreciate that the production hangs neatly together.
JoJo Hatfield, a local radio presenter, makes a witty Maid Marian, although she doesn’t seem quite confident in the role yet. She can sing too - I hope they turn up her mic. In contrast, Maxie Peters, who has 25 years’ experience in pantomime, is very relaxed - perhaps too relaxed - as the dame, Nurse Nitty Nora. We really want to see him push it up a notch.
Charlie Richmond, who plays Numpty Norman, immediately wins the audience’s favour with self-deprecation, rubbish jokes, silliness and lots of fun. Steve Wraith is the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham. His casual disdain for the audience goes down a treat - more, please - but he occasionally comes out of character. Dancer and choreographer Emily Swan has real stage presence and a good voice, and stands out from the rest of the chorus. Glen Joseph’s main role is as Will Scarlett, but he actually flourishes in a comic bit-part as the henchman with a lisp.
There are some experienced entertainers bringing a very traditional pantomime to the north-east, but the production is neither as taut nor as short as it could be.