Review: Baslow panto in top gear

Baslow pantomime The Adventures of Master Toad
Baslow pantomime The Adventures of Master Toad

Super troupers have set their sights on brave new horizons in their quest to entertain panto-loving audiences.

Baslow Players’ production has a decidedly blokey feel, taking the best elements of Top Gear and Star Wars and blending them with a dash of Doctor Who.

Written in-house by Zoe Wareham and Katie Wood, this week’s production of The Panto Adventures of Master Toad! takes pantomime to a new level. The script is intelligent and educational without losing sight of the fact that fun is the driving force.

In the best traditions of panto, the main characters play the opposite sex. Golden-voiced Katie Stuart does a fabulous job as the turbo-charged, test-driving Jeremiah Croakson (aka Master Toad, making her entrance on a space hopper and leading the characters into an adventure-fuelled journey.

Cue sketches and gags about joke tennis, thumping a television producer and simmering rivalry as James Maybe-Knot and Hammy join the petrolhead in some of the best scenes in the show. Director Zoe Wareham is brilliant in the role of Croakson’s shaggy-haired sidekick who sadly gets dropped from the action far too soon. Jackie White as the peace-making Hammy comes into her own in an inventive scene involving candy bars for punchlines.

The Stig is finally unmasked and Ash Sharman milks the role for all its worth.

Gareth Fletcher has the Midas touch in his debut role with the players, first as the shiny-suited droid C2PO complete with diminutive companion R3 and latterly as TV golden boy Bruce Forsyth. Liam Shaw takes the Star Wars theme above and beyond in his role as the dancing dame Leia.

Pint-sized Professor Brian Brain and Dr Goodness Nose bring intelligent life to the panto with youngsters Emily Keen and Grace Baker giving word-perfect performances.

One of the fortes of Baslow Players is their ability to adapt well-known songs to suit their script and this one is no exception with Chitty Chitty Bang, Bang and Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot among the variety of well-performed numbers.

The Panto Adventures of Master Toad! is running at Baslow Village Hall until Saturday, February 27. Better be quick if you want to catch it!