The Coliseum’s Christmas show traditionally heralds the start of panto season. But that’s where the traditions end. Because while this production has just enough of the usual pantomimic ingredients, it also comes with an abundance of contemporary touches.
The script, written by Fine Time Fontayne and acting artistic director Chris Lawson – taking over directing and co-writing duties from Kevin Shaw after a 17-year tenure – positively heaves with these modern accoutrements.
Shorelle Hepkin’s spirited Jill gets promoted to chief hero duties, relegating Sam Glen’s engaging Jack to the role of comic sidekick, while Daisy the cow is reimagined as a human-like New Ager, winningly performed by Mitesh Soni.
Most of these changes work thanks to a hardworking, likeable cast. But some narrative diversions, like having the giant’s wife (played with Child Catcher-like relish by Jenny Platt) stealing phones to build a robot, as well as a surfeit of main characters, stops the story taking flight, at least until the enjoyably chaotic final stretches.
But the production really scores with its songs, with musical standards rubbing shoulders with an array of still-charting numbers from the likes of Lizzo, Ava Max and Sigala – with Richard J Fletcher’s assured dame gamely rapping along to Just Got Paid providing a bizarrely enjoyable comic high point.