Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Ray Spencer and Graeme Thompson
Customs House, South Shields
(2008)

The cast

Nothing kicks off Christmas quite like The Customs House pantomime and this year's seasonal offering was just what I needed to put me in the festive spirit.

Bearing little resemblance to the traditional tale, Dame Dotty and her son Tommy are struggling to revive a flagging circus until their adopted Goldilocks comes across three talented bears. But the evil Baron has other plans for the cuddly crowd pullers.

Tyne Tees boss Graeme Thompson has teamed up with Customs House boss and panto favourite Ray Spencer for a second time for script writing duties, packing in plenty of fun and frolics, with topical gags and music, outrageous costumes and a wonderful set to boot.

Ray also forms one half of another double act - that is perhaps better known in these parts - with Bob Stott. The much-loved duo have been delighting audiences for over thirty years with their riotous and ridiculous routine and are still on top form as the disgraceful Dame Dotty and her dippy son Tommy.

Peter Darrant is fast-becoming a bit of a legend himself as the regular Customs House panto villain. At his finest as the leather-clad Baron Bratwurst, the dashing rogue had the kids quaking behind their popcorn.

David Ducasse makes a welcome return as the arrogant but smooth-talking ringmaster and Graham Overton is as entertaining as ever as the flaky, not so strongman Igor.

As well as the familiar faces there were impressive Customs House debuts from Suzanne Richardson as the Fairy Godmother, who wowed the crowd with her powerful voice. Newcomer Lucy Rafton made a delightful Goldilocks.

Skipping panto season might be an easy way to save money this Christmas, but The Customs House is obviously trying to stay ahead of the game - for the price of a family ticket for Goldilocks you'd struggle to get two tickets elsewhere. Well worth the trip out in the snow.

Running until 4th January

Reviewer: Emily Taylor