The Pantomime is full of spectacle and comedy. Look out for Korky Paul's illustration filling the screen during the interval, puppets popping up from the orchestra pit, an eel flying around the stage and an enormous sausage exploding accompanied by a wonderful double entendre. Neptune's underwater kingdom is full of magic with a beautiful floating sea urchin and an illuminated display of fish swimming past. After a catch of sweet treats, there is plenty of opportunity for audience participation as the coolest of all theatre cats, 'Yo Tommy!' (Joe Allen) gets everyone singing 'Twelve days of Christmas' with some new lyrics. Dame Sarah the Cook (Simon Green) excels at raising the roof with hilarious asides and injects many local references, comparing Oxford United to a stringy bra, 'no cups and little support!' Ashley Bale's traditional lighting design matches the style of the production well. In Fairyland glittering Fairy Port Meadow enters stage right and is lit in the prettiest of pinks and evil King Ratticus (hiss!) is lit, stage left, in hideous green in the style of Commedia dell'arte.
The cast crackles with famous faces. Spot TV's musicality star Donna Hazelton as Fairy Port Meadow, Darren Reeves (aka Benny in Bjorn Again) conducts the orchestra as musical director and David Cardy familiar to many as Chris from Birds of a Feather plays the Sultan. Of course Peter Duncan deserves the biggest Blue Peter Badge of all for the key role of Director. The generosity of the real Richard Whittington is legendary, so perhaps he should not be surprised to find that he is remembered so warmly today. In fact in this story the generosity of this mixed bag of pantomime characters towards each other enables everyone to find a happy ending. Next time you are up on Highgate Hill listen out for the peel of Bow Bells and turn again to see the statue of Whittington's black cat, and shout 'Yo Tommy!'