Traditionally the Gala Theatre in Durham is the first of the season. Written and directed by the established partnership of Neil Armstrong and Paul Hartley, they set the bar very high for the panto scene. Indeed, this could be their year. It is always a pleasure to review panto when a high quality team hit the sweet spot and this is certainly one such occasion.
Now 1pm matinees are not the easiest to do. The problems can be stacked against success. A younger, quieter crowd who don't always know their role in the three ring circus that is the classic British panto perhaps. Or maybe a cast conserving some energy as they have to go again later in the day. We've witnessed both in the past but neither was an issue at the Gala today. As Neil Armstrong appeared, as the evil Abanazar, he quickly coached the young crowd into the time honoured ritual of booing the bad guy.