We seasoned reviewers of Royal Shakespeare Company musicals will inevitably wonder as a new one approaches if it’s to be a Carrie or a Matilda – the first an infamous flop from 1988, the second an ongoing worldwide success.

Well. the Walliams and Williams show The Boy in the Dress is way up the Matilda end of the scale, if not quite at the top.

David Walliams’s 2008 tale has obvious links with Matilda, its concern being a child’s challenge to the tyranny of an unpleasant headteacher. True, Forbes Masson’s Mr Hawtrey lacks the sadism of a Trunchbull, but is still a hissable villain at this time of festive fun.

The target of his ire is the chirpy youngster Dennis – superbly played by Toby Mocrei, one of four lads in the role, at the press show.

Though star striker in the school soccer team, he goes in for an activity not often associated with male players – to wit, cross-dressing.

His interest in frocks begins when he buys a copy of Vogue, because its cover girl reminds him of his mum, who has fled the family home for reasons never explained.

“That’s only bought by ladies and your drama teacher,” explains the ever-jolly newsagent Raj (Irvine Iqbal). Mark Ravenhill’s book is not sedulous in avoidance of stereotyping.

Soon he is out in drag with the help of the school’s pin-up Lisa James (Tabitha Knowles). “Is there anything more beautiful than Lisa James?” ask schoolkids in a well-managed routine under director Gregory Doran and choreographer Aletta Collins.

Robbie Williams and co-writer Guy Chambers supply a feast of numbers in the melodic style for which they are famed.

Rufus Hound shows a sympathetic figure as Dennis’s – and lunky brother John’s (Alfie Jukes) – dad.

Great fun is derived from the wacky mother (Natasha Lewis) of his best pal Darvesh (Ethan Dattani), and even more from their flatulent dog Oddbod, hugely convincing as presented by puppeteer Ben Thompson.

Till March 8. 01789 331111.