Sleeping Beauty – Marlowe theatre, Canterbury *****

The Marlowe has delivered that rare thing – a panto that’s great entertainment for adults and children alike.

With Marlowe stalwart Ben Roddy firmly in charge as Nurse Nellie, this is very much his show, despite the presence of West End star Carrie Hope Fletcher in her panto debut as wicked fairy Carrie-bosse. That’s not to belittle her presence. She delivers a fully rounded performance, packed with details and flashing with star power. And she seems to be having a ball. Roddy provides a powerhouse performance that ticks all the pano dame boxes, some of them several times over. There are jokes a-plenty (and not all of them re-hashed from previous years) and tremendous physical comedy. I was particularly pleased to see a full-on slapstick routine which provided much mess on stage and many laughs.

Jennie Dale is a feisty Fairy Moonbeam who gets some good lines and moments, which is not always the case for the good fairy. Our comedy host is Jangles, played by Max Fulham. A winning presence and a talented and original ventriloquist, he provides effective audience interaction and demonstrates experience beyond his youthful appearance.

The two romantic leads are Ore Oduba as Prince Michael, on a mission to save Ellie Kingdon’s Princess Aurora. These are always tough parts to make anything of in a panto, but Oduba gets star billing so he’s used a lot and acquits himself well in the comedy scenes with Roddy and Fulhamn. Ellie Kingdon as his princess gets some great song and dance numbers and has a super voice too.

This is a quality production with a tight script and charismatic performers. Definitely one of the best pantos I’ve scene and highly recommended.

Sleeping Beauty is at The Marlowe Theatre until 8 January 2023.