Nigel Havers has turned up for the second year running as the headliner in a West Country pantomime, following his King Rat at Swindon last year. Now he is just down the M4 in Bath, playing Fleshcreep in Jack and the Beanstalk, one of the best shows in the region.
His sheer professionalism, plus more than 150 appearances as a baddie in Coronation Street, ensure high levels of hissability, but it is the all-round quality of director Michael Gattrell and his team of players that add up to a palpable hit. Set pieces and musical numbers are refreshingly original, as are the jokes (including an extremely funny, but also rather cruel, one-liner about Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins), while the cast match the very high bar set by Bath pantos down the years.
Despite a slow start - the first Jeremy Corbyn quip doesn`t surface for a record two minutes 34 seconds - Nick Wilton`s Dame Trott, Bath regular Jon Monie`s Simple Simon and David Alcock`s gentlemanly King are a first-rate comic trio. Meanwhile, children`s television cookery presenter Katy Ashworth sparkles as a scatter-brained Fairy, and David Barrett (Jack) and Sarah Louise Day (Princess Jill) manage to keep the mercifully few romantic interludes tuneful rather than sugary.