If you're looking for a panto to bring the whole family to this Christmas, look no further than Goldilocks and The Three Musketeers. The latest festive offering from award winning comedy trio The Sleeping Trees, directed by Kerry Frampton with music and composition by Ben Hales, is a glorious combination of physical comedy and wonderfully silly songs performed with the Trees' trademark blend of sheer energy and elastic-faced characterisation.
The story is perhaps the most ambitious of all pantos. A combination of, well, just about every fairy-tale you can imagine. I suppose it's inaccurate to call The Three Musketeers a fairy-tale, but alongside them there's our eponymous Goldilocks sure, as well as The Mad Hatter, Humpty Dumpty and (in one of the show's best moments) a particularly memorable Snowman. In other hands perhaps the narrative might suffer, as we jump from story to story and place to place, but the combination of James Dunnell-Smith, John Woodburn and Joshua George Smith proves again to be a winning formula. The three are expert physical performers and the masters of devising intricate madcap stories, cutting characters and pasting them in new worlds with glee; with them onstage the piece never lags or falls into exposition and they keep their young audience captivated right up to the final song. It might be the most ambitious panto plot ever created, but it's pulled off to perfection with a genius concoction of relentless energy and sheer silliness.
Ben Hales provides some expert musical accompaniment from the stage, where we are led to believe he takes permanent residence, and is a game White Rabbit, popping up occasionally in a very cute costume. The set (designed by Zahra Mansouri) and lighting design (by Pablo Bas Fernandez) too are excellent, creating a yule-tide atmosphere with clever uses of sheets, boxes and chairs to create specific moments for the story to come to life - keep an eye out for the tiny fellas in the backpack.
By the end of the show I was beaming. A surprisingly poignant finale with a lovely message for their young audience is the perfect way to cap off this latest Christmas treat. It is a credit to the company that their young audience were, by turns, in fits of laughter or indignantly correcting the cruel Alice's (yes, the one from wonderland, she is now a baddie) assumptions that kids can't be brave. Goldilocks and The Three Musketeers is the panto to see this year, take the kids, take your mates, take your parents, there's something there for everyone to enjoy.
Goldilocks and The Three Musketeers is on at Battersea Arts Centre until the 31st of December, tickets are available here -
Photo by Adam Trigg