You think you had a strange day at work? If you weren’t hanging from the rafters dressed as a giant shrimp while being serenaded with a Bond theme, then you’ve got nothing on Adam Keast. Keast, for it is he, is one of the most familiar faces in the Playhouse’s rock ‘n’ roll panto.

Like any pantomime, it has a formula; but throw in a bit of Led Zeppelin here, a crime-fighting ninja princess there and a dame whose best housecoat is actually a house, and you are, fittingly, pretty much through the looking glass.

The rock ‘n’ roll panto has functioned the same way for a long time; the cast is also the house band on rotation, and the aforementioned Keast and Francis Tucker steal the show as the comic lead and the dame, although possibly not for their ability to keep a straight face as they do so. This year sees the return of a number of familiar faces from last year’s production, which isn’t always the way.

Written as usual by by Sarah A Nixon and Mark Chatterton, there’s something of a discernible plot in there, but even the Playhouse will admit the traditional tale of Aladdin has been somewhat kicked to the curb for the sake of a few fart jokes, a French fairy and the inclusion of a Mountie as a major character. Well, needs must.

Marianne Benedict is superb as supervillian Morgana Beezlebub, with Griffin Stevens camping up a storm as her evil counterpart. Carla Freeman brings a touch of Disney princess sweetness and newcomer Sam Haywood holds his own as Aladdin despite having the double assault of Keast (Monty Zuma) and Tucker (Lottie Longbottom) distracting at every turn.

In years gone by it’s never seemed the script has been quite as rude as it is this year – bursting with double entendre and innuendo, it doesn’t seem quite as clever as previous years in the way it usually combines jokes children and adults can enjoy. That is not to say the smut isn’t hard to resist.

When Lottie comes on stage adorned with a lengthy prison number that is the same digit repeated, “you’re covered in number twos” could be a perfectly reasonable observation.

As ever it’s the songs that help to make the show, this time including Jean Genie, Heaven 17’s Temptation, and a Python-style version of All By Myself so perfectly ridiculous you could very possibly cry laughing. I did.

Liverpool Playhouse
Until 18 January

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