When Keith Chegwin starred as Buttons at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon last Christmas, it was announced he would be returning this year in Jack and the Beanstalk. Plainly, he has lost his sat nav guide to the giant’s castle in the sky. For here he is washing the laundry in Old Peking instead in this enjoyable collaboration between prodigious pantomime producer Qdos Entertainment and the small but beautifully formed One From the Heart.
The independent Horsham-based outfit is staging its ninth successive Swindon panto, and although the link with Qdos has undoubtedly upped presentation standards (and noise levels) this is still very much a traditional pantomime adventure.
Chegwin saunters through the show as Wishee Washee with scarcely a single bead of perspiration, relying on his familiar good cheer to keep the youngsters happy. The two hardest workers are Ian Mowat, happily keeping any blue jokes from Widow Twankey to a minimum, and David Ashley as an all-action Abanazar, although his constant parroting of pop songs does get a little tiring.
Suzie Chard is a Genie who seems to be auditioning for The Only Way is Essex, and Liam Ross-Mills (Aladdin) and Lauren Varnham (Princess Jasmine) bring a pleasant touch of romance to proceedings.