Buxton Opera House’s pantomime may be low on big name stars and special effects but it’s high in on humour and full of genuine warmth.
Director Philip Dart’s lively script, faultlessly delivered by a well-drilled cast, is full of funny, but inoffensive gags, though the emergence of a massive sausage from an oven in an otherwise routine cookery scene generates a lot of laughter of the nudge-nudge variety.
Last year’s popular comic pairing of James Holmes and Matthew Jay Ryan are back to provide the bulk of the comedy. Holmes adopts a Vera Duckworth-like voice for his engaging Sarah the Cook, while Ryan keeps the story rolling along nicely in the title role. The show is also blessed with a fine King Rat, thanks to Alistair Lee, whose stage presence and strong singing voice combine to create a wicked charm.
Charley Vincent is an acrobatic Tommy the Cat and Richard Blackman’s clipboard-wielding Percy the Pest Controller is a delight. He, too, has a terrific singing voice, though has less opportunity to air his vocal talents.
A team of young local dancers, choreographed by Lily Howkins, are impressive and the sets are particularly striking for a small production company.