Review: Babes in the Wood at Youlgrave

Youlgrave panto, Tess Edmonds as Robin Hood with the merry men, George Walker, Keith Evans, Nichola Milner, Martin Delaney and Amy Shinwell

Youlgrave panto, Tess Edmonds as Robin Hood with the merry men, George Walker, Keith Evans, Nichola Milner, Martin Delaney and Amy Shinwell

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It’s been going for over fifty years, and involves most of the village, either on stage, behind the scenes or in the audience: a sure sign of popularity and success for Youlgrave’s annual pantomime.

This year it’s Babes in the Wood, and six months of enthusiasm and hard work have paid off, with a wealth of painted scenery, some wonderful props (including a ‘horseless carriage’ complete with cocktail bar), at least one costume change for everyone, and a show packed full of energy and imagination.

It’s directed by Nic Wilson, who also plays colourful Nurse Nicely, the grumpiest Dame in the village – and no wonder, with mischievous Justin and Jolyon (Tom Birch and Damion Glover) causing all sorts of hilarious havoc.

It’s a real old-fashioned village panto, with a slightly jangly piano and plenty of local references, along with the running gags and topical jokes about local council cuts and the England cricket team.

The cast span every age group from under-tens to over-fifties, and help each other out over the occasional dropped line or missed cue. The audience get stuck in as well, cheering, booing, shouting and singing along with familiar tunes like Wish Me Luck and Money, Money, Money. There’s even a random fairy who wanders in en route for another panto in Derby, via the Little Shop of Horrors if her headdress is anything to go by.

Cherry Fudge the sweet shop owner (Cathreen Henwood) is secretly a fairy, and does a grand job of protecting the Babes (Libby Wildbore and Poppy Prince) from the evil, moneygrabbing Sheriff of Nottingham (Simon Edmonds). She also lends a hand when Robin Hood (played in traditional style by a girl, Tess Edmonds) and the band of Merry Men steal back the taxes the Sheriff wickedly raises, and wants to woo Lady Marian (Toni Frost).

It’s at Youlgrave Village Hall until Saturday, February 8.

LYNNE PATRICK