IT is approaching that time of year when all you want to do is sit back, relax, and switch off from the stresses of daily life. What better place to do this than at a pantomime, where you can become immersed in fun and silliness?

I haven’t been to a panto in quite a while, so, when I heard that Dick Whittington was showing at The Playhouse, I thought this would provide the perfect chance to have a couple of laughs.

And did it? Oh yes it did…

Even though it was a Sunday afternoon, The Playhouse was teeming with young children and their families, as well as what looked like social group outings.

Even though it was incredibly busy, staff were kind and friendly, making sure that everyone got to their seats without getting lost in the crowds.

All that was left was to sit, enjoy the Christmas tunes playing on the speakers, and wait for the show to begin.

Weston Mercury: Queen Rat was the villain of the show.Queen Rat was the villain of the show. (Image: Parkwood Theatres)

As I mentioned before, it had been a while since I had seen a panto, so I wasn’t actually too clear on the story of Dick Whittington.

For those that don’t know, the panto follows the story of Richard Whittington, whose friends call him Dick, as he sets off on an adventure to London to find his fame and fortune.

Whilst there, Dick meets a whole host of buddies, including The Cat, Sarah The Cook, Idle Jack, Alderman and Alice Fitzwarren and Fairy Bowbells.

Together, they work to save London from an infestation of rats, controlled by the wicked Queen Rat, who, by the way, “hates children” and wants to become Lord Mayor of London.

Fairy Bowbells, played by Collette Stewart, kicked off the show and acted as a narrator throughout. Dressed in her pink fairy costume, complete with a wand, bouncy blonde curls and upbeat personality, she was instantly a fan favourite.

Fairy Bowbells introduced some of the characters as they arrived, instructing the audience to make an ‘Oooo’ sound when the main character, Dick (Daniel Slade), went onto stage. 

Weston Mercury: The ensemble were also brilliant.The ensemble were also brilliant. (Image: Parkwood Theatres)

Likewise, the audience was told to meow when The Cat, played by Gareth Davies, appeared. Despite his grumpy attitude and his many references to his past career as a Shakespearean actor, The Cat, who was given the name Clive by audience member Martin, quickly became a much-loved character (note to self: never sit in the front row).

Sarah the Cook, played by Michael Goble, particularly stood out for me. Sarah, the mother of Idle Jack (Derek Moran) and love interest to Alderman Fitzwarren (Richard Alan), catered to both children and adults, often making innuendos which made the adults chuckle but seemed to go right over the children’s heads.

Sarah had me in stitches when, during a musical number in which they were doing a sailing rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas, she started to throw toilet rolls into the audience, starting a kind of toilet roll war.

It was chaotic, fun, and seemed to make everyone crack a smile, including the cast. It was nice to see them genuinely having fun whilst on stage.

The sheer vocal talent of the cast also impressed me, particularly Alice Fitzwarren (Lucy Kane) and the villain of the show, Queen Rat (Linda Lusardi).

Weston Mercury: In the story, Dick meets his love interest, Alice.In the story, Dick meets his love interest, Alice. (Image: Parkwood Theatres)

Whilst everyone’s vocals were impressive, there were some points where it was difficult to make out the words to the songs due to the volume of the music and the crowd. Even so, the characters’ exaggerated movements and actions made their meanings clear.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the panto, and would urge anyone young or old to pop along and have a laugh. You have until Sunday, December 31 to see it for yourself – don’t miss out.