IT is always a little disconcerting when you turn up to watch a play and the director is poring over the Internet, following instructions on how to make a noose. I know nobody likes a critic, but for future reference, you can usually buy me off with a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Pantomime season is upon us once more. As usual, the nation is awash with fairy tales about streets being paved with gold, magic beans and sleeping beauties about to awaken from forty years of restrictive trade directives.

But for those who have already had their fill of Jack and the Backstop – they’re not behind you, Prime Minister, etc, etc – Salisbury has plenty of alternatives to put all thoughts of Brexit behind you.

This Saturday, for example, sees the launch of Salisbury Playhouse’s Beauty and the Beast. It’s their biggest show of the year and is once again written by Andrew Pollard and directed by Ryan McBride: if it ain’t broke, bring the award-winning team back for another season. The Playhouse are a dab hand when it comes to big productions and it’s encouraging that after everything that has happened in Salisbury this year, ticket sales are doing brisk business.

But Beauty and the Beast is far from the only show in town. Across Salisbury and beyond, a whole troupe of drama organisations are dusting down the double-entendres and getting ready for their own performances.

In Coombe Bissett, you can see Cinderella (December 5-8 ), as you can in Winterbourne (December 14-15); Amesbury Community Theatre, meanwhile, are in rehearsals for their new year show of Aladdin.

Over at St Michael’s Community Centre in Bemerton, I caught up with preparations for the Bemerton Players’ production of Mother Goose. Bemerton Players is one of the oldest theatre groups in Salisbury, having originally been founded back in 1976. Their first full pantomime, Goody Two Shoes, was performed in December 1978, marking this year’s production a sort of 40th anniversary.

The making of Mother Goose is very much a community affair. The rehearsal I watched was full of heart and humour and show-must-go-on spirit – all summed up by the backstage team painting the set around the actors, and the directors making the props. Chatting afterwards to directors Charlie Kee and Mel Smith, and actress Sally Marshall, they described how both actors and audiences are a mix of new and old: this year’s cast list sees familiar faces alongside next-generation actors, taking their first steps into theatre.

With slapstick, singalongs and profits going to local charities, Mother Goose is a homegrown, heart-warming package worthy of your support.

Mother Goose is at St Michael’s Community Hall from December 6-8. For details, visit