If there was any doubt in my mind as to which comedy group devises the best pantomimes at Christmas, it’s been eliminated. This show is hilarious, adventurous, action-packed, filled with zany characters and brilliantly whimsical songs. Simply put, if you’re looking for a panto to take the kids to this Christmas, The Sleeping Trees’ Goldilocks and The Three Musketeers ticks all the boxes!

The show takes a menagerie of well-known fairy tales/children’s stories and, in typical Sleeping Trees fashion, smashes them all together to create its own wonderfully silly storyline. We follow three boys as they find their late Nana’s old storybook one Christmas. They decide to start acting out the stories, like they used to do with their Nana, only to find that the end pages of each story have been ripped out! With no endings to the stories, the boys act out one story into another, starting at and following Goldilocks, going through Alice in Wonderland, bumping into Humpty Dumpty, happening upon The Three Musketeers and ending somewhere in the North Pole.

Being that this is a pantomime and as such is tailored to suit all ages, having such a complicated storyline could so easily create an environment where younger kids don’t understand what’s happening. However, the trio take phenomenal care to ensure that the audience is not only following the storyline but are involved within it. This non-linear story combined with crystal clear engagement of the audience creates a space where these well-known characters come to life. There’s an element of magic in the room when you can feel a young audience truly believing in what’s in front of them.

This segues nicely onto the ‘relaxed’ nature of this performance. This is a venue based choice as part of Battersea Arts Centre’s efforts to become a fully relaxed venue. A relaxed performance simply means that the audience are free to do as they please throughout; make a little noise, go out to the toilets, or even just take some time outside if needs be. It works exceptionally well in this pantomime. Some of the best moments on the day I saw this show, came from an innocuous line being said on stage and a child in the audience heckling out of pure excitement, which the Trees themselves are experts in handling and turning into a hilarious moment.

As comedians by nature, The Sleeping Trees trio, James Dunnell-Smith, John Woodburn and Joshua George Smith, alongside Ben Hales as their brilliant on stage musical companion and director Kerry Frampton, have created a show that can be equally enjoyed by children and adults alike. Whilst their excellent characterisation, animated storytelling and infectious energy keeps the younger audience captivated, their exceptionally witty humour has the adults in the audience in stitches throughout, just as engaged. It’s genuine high-octane family fun!

With all these stories, energy and fun, it’s hard to believe there’d be time for The Sleeping Trees to fit in a wholesome message at the end, but somehow they manage it, tying up the show somewhat plaintively, yet superbly. Goldilocks and The Three Musketeers is a real treat this Christmas. Whether you’re a Sleeping Trees fan or have never heard of them. Whether you’re a child or an adult. I have the same piece of advice for you all. Go and see this show!

Goldilocks and The Three Musketeers is on at Battersea Arts Centre until the 31st of December, tickets are available here

Main Image Credit: The Other Richard

Craig Unadkat is an actor, one fifth of Red Biscuit Theatre and an avid spectator of the arts!

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