Let’s kick off with the bad news. This panto is long...it is very long. Coming in at almost three hours it’s enough to test the endurance of even the most ardent slapsticker and the rear end padding of everyone else thanks to the Borough’s newly uncomfortable seats.

Sadly the extra hour or so on the production does mean at times it’s a case of never mind the quality, feel the width, as there seemed to be more than usual sticky moments, with the prompt having more lines than the rest of the cast on the opening night.

It also leads to a feeling that the entire production could have benefitted from a few weeks extra rehearsal just to make sure everyone knew where they were and what they were supposed to be doing when they arrived there.

Unusually for Abergavenny Pantomime Company the opening night also felt a bit Friday night-ish, as if the cast was exhausted and struggling to muster the energy for which this company is so known.

Sadly I think APC is  also missing Ken Jones in his traditional Dame role. While Snowy Clark fills in well, abandoning his more familiar ‘friendly village idiot’ garb for the Dame’s skirts and hats, it doesn’t appear to be a role which sits easily and almost confines his normal exuberance.

That said there were some good moments. The chorus as always worked hard and provided many highlights - its great to see the company’s future looks assured if only thanks to the huge number of youngsters swelling the ranks of the chorus.

Molly Brickley Clark was solid in the role of Dick with great support from Izzy Neville as Tiddles his faithful moggy.

As Alderman Fitzwarren, the aforementioned Ken Jones worked well, raising a many a laugh from the audience with his  backchat to the prompt during the less than rare moments of cast confusion.

As his daughter Alice, Kayleigh Barton provided a great foil to both Dick and her stage father.

Richard Poynter also worked well as Barrow Boy Billy leading the cast in some great chorus numbers.

Peter Holder as always endeared the audience with his portrayal of the bumbling  wannabe pirate Long John Tin Foil with great support from his team of equally bumbling crewmen. I loved his version of the Wellerman   which gained a huge round of applause from the audience.

Marilyn Balkwill was equally well received as the Pearly Queen Spirit of London.

It’s not unsual for the baddies to have the best lines and the best reaction from the audience and this production was no exception to this rule, with Joe Pugh, Luke Williams and Tristan Williams hamming it up to the limit as King Rat and his evil henchmen Nip and Tuck.

It seemed at times as if the production came to life whenever they appeared with their well rehearsed slapstick bringing gales of laughter from an appreciative first night audience.

While this was certainly not one of Aber Panto Co’s best productions, its always great to see this most tradtional company back on stage at the Borough.

So many children have their first experience of theatre with a visit to the panto, and if the little ones sitting in the rows around me were anything to go by they had was a great experience.

It’s hard to knock anything which gets kids up and dancing in the aisles and when it comes to nurturing home grown theatre and local talent Abergavenny Pantomime Company just about takes the crown and once early performance nerves are under control I’m sure audiences will have a ball.