THE festive season is upon us and, in the world of theatre, that can only mean one thing – panto season!

I love a good pantomime (oh, yes I do); it must be all that slapstick humour that just puts me in the mood for Christmas.

This year’s production at Salisbury Playhouse is Jack and the Beanstalk, written by Andrew Pollard and directed by Ryan McBryde (the pair behind the last two Playhouse pantos), it’s packed full of the usual songs, dance and gags galore but the traditional tale has been given a shiny, new, contemporary feel.

Richard Ede makes a welcome return as panto Dame Dotty (what a hottie!) Trott.

Dotty and her son Jack (Sam Harrison) are so poor, when they go down to the village pond the ducks throw bread for THEM!

Their West Country cow Pat (Laura Crowhurst) has a fantastic singing voice and loves turnips and rapping but hates being milked.

Then there’s potty old King Crackpot (JJ Henry) and his daughter Princess Jill (Tanya Shields), Jemma Geanaus’s magical Fortuna, who used to be the Rihanna of the fairy world but now she’s lost her mojo, and not forgetting the villainous Nightshade (Steven Serlin) – a kind of lovechild of Noel Fielding and Dr Evil - who does a marvellous job of insulting the children and old folk, provoking much booing and hissing from the audience.

There’s quite a big focus on poverty in this show which designer James Button tries to bring out in the ever-so-slightly understated costumes.

The giant is something to behold too and you could just see all the young children, with eyes wide in bewilderment as he appeared on the stage.

There are lots of popular songs and a few original compositions, thanks to musical director Chris Peake, and choreographer Nicky Griffiths has created some great dance sequences.

But the most important ingredient in panto is the laughs and I can confirm this one has plenty of them ¬- the parody of Bohemian Rhapsody must surely go down as the most comical scene in panto history – it just gets funnier and funnier as the song goes on.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs at Salisbury Playhouse until January 7. For tickets go to