Frostbite – Who pinched my muff? by Gareth Joyner. The Eagle Garden Theatre, Vauxhall, London to January 2021. 5*****. William Russell

If this is not the best pantomime in London, albeing an adult one which means it is more of a carry on than normal, then I will eat my critical hat. It has arguable the best cast in town – the seven strong players can sing, dance, crack a joke and rise to any occasion. At pantomimes in pub theatres there Is usually a drunk or two in the back row who cannot resist overdoing audience participation and this was no exception. Not that it fazed the playesr, young or slightly older – the Dame (Derek Walker) had no problem at all in putting them in their place but nejther did the much younger Lumiukko, a sort of Buttons character (James Lowrie,showing a skill that belied his years).
The script is funny, lots of it is in rhyme, there are some neat plot twists, they get away with having a principal boy – Garbo played by Shelley Rivers – who wears tights and slaps those slappable thighs on every occasion, and manage a fine running gag as the principal girl played by Bessy Ewa is called Greta. She gets to deliver the best happy ending punch line in ages. The costumes are extravagant, the set sparkles, the fairy queen is swathed in silver lame, there is a hissable villain called Frostbite, played by Nathan Taylor, and lots of audience participation.
There are a few rather tired gay jokes in the script but one can forgive anything for Greta’s last word. The sing along song works, Robert McWhir has directed it all in fine style and the result is as good a night out for one’s money as one has any right to expect. There is also a lovely routine in which they dispense with the four letter words which often litter adult pantos – just how it would be wrong to reveal – and a splendidly rude Twelve Days of Christmas.
Greta: Bessy Ewa.
Bergermeister Kai: Tom Keeling.
Lumiukko: James Lowrie.
Fairy Snowflake: Kingsley Morton.
Demon Frostbite: Nathan Taylor.
Garbo: Shelley Rivers.
Dame Herda Gerda: Derek Walker.

Director: Robert McWhir.
Set & Costume Designer: David Shields.
Musical Director: Flynn Sturgeon.
Lighting Designer: Richard Lambert.
Choreography: William Spencer;
Associate Musical Director: Aaron Clingham.

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