Directed by Teresa Miller, the Wootton Players Panto this year was Robin Hood and his Merry Men. No surprise they were merry living the good life deep in the heart of Sherwood Forest with no mobile phones, council tax, TV reality shows or talk of Brexit.

The good folk of Wootton obviously relish their Pantos judging by the audience reaction in the packed village hall. The two main baddies in this production Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham had the auditorium hissing and booing when they appeared on stage and held their corner with threats of what they would do to the audience if they persisted. Good stuff.

The action starts in a village in Sherwood Forest, the scenery, or lack of it, left something to be desired. Most of the scenes lacked a full set with the exception of Robin’s hideout, which was excellent.

So here we are, Prince John played with relish by Ros Merriman is hard up and increasing taxes in every direction, a bit like a meeting of the Treasury I should imagine. The Sheriff is told to go and get the money from the peasants and if he plays his cards right the Prince will let him marry Maid Marian. Off he trots and takes anything he can from the villagers, as they have no money.

Mike Varnom threw himself into the role of the Sheriff, snarling and threatening the crowd including the audience if they resisted him.

Enter Gymkhana (Jim) nicely played by Jasmine Miller who has a rather fine cow called Daisy, and parents who have been slung into jail as they upset the Prince for some reason.

When Robin and his men finally materialised, we find the thigh slapping Ruth Blackwell in the part leading her followers from the front in an excellent display of management technique. Friar Tuck (Becki Brewis) looked the part in her natty monk’s costume as did Will Scarlet (Janet Scott) well, dressed in scarlet.

Little John for some reason had an arrow through his head in the early part of the Show and sounded as though he hailed from Barnsley way. He was a tad over the top sometimes but I guess that’s pantomime, but why the arrow?

The mandatory Dame in the production was Jemina Gusset played with vigour and style by Simon Newton. He strutted and stormed his way through in a dazzling array of dresses.

The cast was big and the stage sometimes over crowded but the costumes were from the top drawer. Costume supremo Kate Schomberg is to be congratulated on her designs.

Back in the village our hero Jim cons her way into Robin’s band by pretending to be a man to get into the castle to rescue her parents and Robin wants entry to rescue Maid Marian from the clutches if the Sheriff.

Various characters keep popping in and out including the rhyming Ellen A-Dale, cheerfully portrayed be Imaan Nawaz-Campbell.

The action continued apace with a certain amount of audience participation though there were too many pop songs in the production for my liking.

Robin tells all of his love for Maid Marian and isn’t too pleased to hear she is marrying the Sheriff. He hatches a dastardly daring plan to foil the deed and rescue her he does also taking delivery of Jim’s long suffering parents (Kate Schomberg and Tod Fairfield).

With a couple of words Jim (don’t forget he’s a girl) persuades John to cease being a Meanie (I wish she’d have a word with President Macron) and ends up marrying the transformed Prince.

As with all Panto’s there are too many characters to mention but with the exception of just a few, another week’s rehearsal would have benefited the production. Admittedly it was the first night but there were many pregnant pauses, spotlight’s with a mind of their own and generally a lack of slickness shall we say.

The Sound department (Barney Merriman) did a good job throughout with some nice touches including Daisy’s constant mooing.

A commendation to choreographer, Charlotte Pinker who wove many a tight move round the stage which included local youngsters, always good to see giving their time and effort to the community.