Professional circus clown Tweedy is on sabbatical from the Big Top for the fifth Christmas running, bringing his special laughter-making talent to his home town pantomime. As always, he introduces a riotous new collection of circus stunts – his shenanigans from the inside of a giant balloon are worth the price of admission alone – but for once the character he is playing, Sillie Billie, does not sit all that easily with a rather curate`s egg of a show.
The familiar but at times pedestrian comedy routines are disappointing, especially as William Elliott, as Dame Trott, and writer/director Phil Clark are both marking their 10th anniversaries with the Everyman Theatre. The songs also lack originality, coming straight from the hit parade as far back as Cole Porter and Charlie Chaplin, although Jim Steinman`s Bat Out of Hell helps make the second half a deal more colourful than the first.
Frankie Jones and Natalie Taylor Gray are strong in the vocal department as Jack and Jill, and it is well worth turning up 15 minutes early to catch Tweedy in his comic pomp before the curtain even rises, tickling the ribs of all three levels of the auditorium with the help of a mischievous bowler hat and ancient carpet broom.