Once again, the Theatre Royal Bath is hosting the longest run of any professional pantomime in the region - a whole two weeks further into January than the Bristol Hippodrome, for example - and it can't be a coincidence that dame of dames Chris Harris is at the helm for the 11th year running. Cast numbers may have shrunk over the years, but the production standards remain consistently high and Harris' classic Sarah the Cook is probably equivalent to three characters, anyway.
Despite a health setback earlier this year, Harris is fit enough to direct, so you can be sure that tradition rules OK, although there is room for several topical Olympic Games gags along the way. It is good also to see a genuine principal boy in the title role, in the attractive form of children's TV presenter Naomi Wilkinson, while another player stepping impressively out of his television comfort zone is Holby City's Mark Moraghan, in fine voice as King Rat.
Jon Monie (Idle Jack) and Richard Colson (Alderman Boris Fitzwarren) slip easily into the comic routines, and there is pleasing support from Carrie Ellis (Fairy Bow Bells), Laura Clements (Alice) and Abigail Brodie (Tommy the Cat).