Anniversary panto at Warwick theatre is scary but fun

Puss in Boots, Bridge House Theatre, Warwick. On until January 1. Box office: 776438.

THE intimacy of the Bridge House Theatre makes it an ideal venue for pantomimes where audiences can become totally engaged with all those ‘He’s behind you!’ catcalls.

But it was a little too engaged for the four-year-old I took along who got quite scared when the ogre – a simple girl for most of the time – turned her zombie-like eyes in his third-row direction. Having said that, Clare Sykes did rather revel in the part and and was a lot more sinister than the more everyday monster who eventually turned up.

But while little Finlay was hiding behind his seat, my ten-year-old reviewer, Harry, thought the whole show was terrific. .

He told me: “I most liked the woman playing Sydney and I thought the singing was the best I’ve heard in a pantomime.” Praise indeed.

As it happened, I liked Sydney too, played by Sarah Lucas, as the slapstick sidekick to the Dame, the role always taken by the show’s writer and director Adam Schumacher, who returned to Puss in Boots to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his company, OTFM.

Both young boys were entranced by Amy Wood in the title role - she really is a wonderful dancer. And they liked the silly Fairy Alfalfa (Marian Braddish), who turned out to have a really powerful voice, as well as the Dame’s advances on the Sea Scout leader picked out from the audience.

Gloriously, Esther Dunn was there to reprise her role as principal boy from that first production ten years earlier. Adam is right when he says in the programme she looks younger than ever and her partnership with Princess Vileda (Hannah Townsend) works well.

Personally, I was uncomfortable with the German Third Reich connotations of the nasty Baron character, for all it was hilariously played by Harry Benfield. It felt to me to be misplaced.

The king’s migration into Elvis (Steve Vent) is fun, if not entirely successful, but my main concern was the length of this production. Why, oh why, does everyone think pantomimes intended for children have to go on for ever?

At least Puss has a 6.30pm start and it is worth seeing – even it it does take a sideswipe at my Coventry home as a concrete jungle. Even young Harry was not amused.

Barbara Goulden