THEATRE REVIEW: Brilliant Sleeping Beauty helps to banish the January blues - oh yes it does!

Westfield Folkhouse's Sleeping Beauty at Mansfield Palace Theatre
Westfield Folkhouse's Sleeping Beauty at Mansfield Palace Theatre

It may have been weeks ago that the Christmas decorations came down and you broke your New Year resolutions, but it’s still panto season.

Oh yes it is.

And once again the cast from the Westfield Folkhouse have served up the perfect tonic to banish the January blues with a traditional panto packed with family entertainment.

This adaptation of Sleeping Beauty got off to a flying start with a superb rendition of Kool and the Gang’s iconic hit ‘Celebration’ - and boy did we celebrate a good night indeed.

It set the tone for an evening of fantastic, slap-stick humour as the Folkhouse team delivered a show which had the audience crying with laughter and dancing in the aisles.

As with any panto, there’s the usual cries of ‘he’s behind you’ and ‘oh no he isn’t’ coupled with topical, rib-tickling one-liners - mainly at the expense of Shirebrook once again, while there was also a mention of the blasted B word, Brexit!

It appears, you can’t go anywhere nowadays without it being mentioned.

There were strong performances throughout and as always it feels unfair to single out anyone for special praise when it comes to a production put together by a team of volunteers.

But their hard work paid off handsomely.

She may not have been popular with the audience for her role as the traditional panto villain Malefluent, but Lynn Roberts produced a fantastic all-round performance as the evil witch and was ably supported by her sidekick Wormwood - played by Matthew Jayes.

Boos rang out around the theatre every time they graced the stage, with both revelling in their notoriety.

Of course, no Westfield panto would be the same without the simply brilliant David Gell and Brandon Stafford.

The pair doubled up as the hapless Ben Hope and Jerry Less to provide the appropriately named Hope and Less.

But they were far from hopeless. In fact, they played the double act to perfection and had the audience in stitches throughout - especially the scene when Gell cracked an egg on Stafford’s forehead as the pair were charged with making a cake for the princess’s wedding.

The chemistry between the pair is a joy to watch.

Martin Belcher was once again the dame, this time playing man-hungry Dame Fairy Gaslight. As ever, Belcher was decked out in flamboyant, eye-catching costumes as his desperate character went about wooing any man which came his way. Unsuccessfully, I may add.

Paige Nussey and Kaylie Malone were excellent as Sleeping Beauty and Prince Harry respectively in a production - amazingly, the group’s 78th - which as something for everyone.

The sets are superb and the costumes fantastic and special mention must also go to the dancers from the Christine March School of Dance, Lisa Gail Theatre School, Razzamataz and Syncopation School of Performing Arts. They were brilliant and did their teachers proud.

So, if you want to banish the blues and take a trip into a kingdom far, far away, then why not pop along to watch Sleeping Beauty.

You won’t be disappointed.

- Sleeping Beauty continues at the Palace Theatre until Sunday (January 21).

Tickets cost £6 each and are available from the Mansfield Palace Theatre, online at www.mansfield.gov.uk/palacetheatre or at the box office via 01623 633133.