Wootton Players' rendition of the classic Sleeping Beauty Pantomime by Alan Frayn (Wootton Village Hall Jan31st-Feb 3rd) was a helter skelter ride from start to finish. A full speed ahead belterfeaturing song & dance, non-stop jokes (most of them dreadful) and a dash of really creative staging, a rare treat.

Over thirty characters somehow dovetailed on this small village hall stage, a tribute to choreographers Honor Varnom and Charlotte Pinker, and Director Teresa Miller.

Comedy was aplenty with a strong performance from Jenni Williams as queen-of-the-pun, Muddles, the royal gopher who whipped the mainly young audience into the palm of her hand and had them at her beck & call, and call they did.

The set was simple though adequate but the music in parts drowned a couple of songs. However this could be forgiven as I thought there were too many ditties anyway.

So, a fanfare announces the arrival of the King & Queen. The royal couple introduced the baby Rose and then tossed the bairn to Nurse Dottie for upbringing. A little harsh from Queenie I thought, played by Tracey Pearce, but an idea that could catch on. Tod Fairfield's performance as King Cactus was a tad shaky at the start but did improve as the night wore on. Then it could have been the sight of his only child being thrown across the stage that did it.

In fairness there were some quite brilliant innovative touches in this production. The idea of using Dr Who's Tardis to transport to cast over twenty or so, then fifty years was impressive as was the St Trinians scene as the young ladies did what St Trinians girls do best, shake their booty.

The programme indicated this was a pantomime in the traditional style and so it was. A male Dame and a female principal boy refreshingly hove back to pre PC days.

As with many of these productions there are too many characters and players to list, suffice to say there were no bad apples and credit must be given to the young of Wootton who were obviously enjoying themselves as well as entertaining over 150 of the local population on the night. No prompts either as far as I could tell.

Hannah Batt-Rawden played the Good Fairy Lilac, giving a clear confident performance as did Pages Fetch & Carrie (Janet Scott & Wendy Rossiter) who provided an original comic interlude with their place names on the envelopes routine. (You had to be there).

The costumes were superb, especially the one for the 21 year old princess. Her dress was stunning. Congratulations to costume supremo Kate Schomberg.

Bad Witch was played by Ros Merriman, a convincing portrayal with Ros making the most of her part and who wouldn't with such a cracking role. Then there was Nurse Dottie Dettol the classic pantomime Dame. What a part, and faultlessly engineered by Mike Varnom. Again he connected well with the audience and clearly revelled in all those flouncy costume changes. Steady on Mike.

Other memorable moments of this well-loved story includes the scene where the Bad Witch is preparing her spell in her cauldron with her ravens. The ravens dressed in scary masks and cloaks terrorised the children as they eerily moved round the stage and the audience. Along with the other scenario where Princess Rose (Ruth Blackwell) discovers the witch at her spinning wheel in the derelict tower was quite excellent.

Finally I must mention the use of suitably clad cast members portrayed as the hedge growing around the castle during the 100 year sleep. This was ingenious and worked extremely well as Prince Alexis (Jasmine Miller) slashed at the growth with his sword and even a Light Sabre, how up to date is that?