Steven Wren and Headless Knight in Sleeping Beauty at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness


Fairies, princesses and a sleep that lasts a thousand years. It can mean only one thing – panto is back in Inverness, and this year it’s Sleeping Beauty’s time to shine in another stellar production that audiences young and old will fall in love with.

Quite how the Eden Court team can bottle such concentrated Christmas spirit is not yet clear, but from the second you enter the auditorium the sounds and sights transport you to a magical land.

This adventure sticks to the fairytale of old we know and love, with a few Scottish twists along the way. It’s a superbly well-crafted panto that leans on story to drive it while allowing plenty of time for frolics along the way.

Imagine Theatre’s vast sets and dazzling costumes ensure this panto looks the part – with everything from oversized dragons to headless knights and plenty of mess in the slosh scenes.

At the helm of the madness is writer, director and Dame extraordinaire Steven Wren. His Nurse Netty has ridiculous costumes and even more ridiculous jokes, with an irresistible warmth.

As daft Hilarious Hector, Ross Allan is the self-appointed conductor of chaos for wee ones, who are encouraged by a nod and a wink from this daft boy to raise the roof in this interactive art form we call panto.

Returning to Eden Court after a roaring debut last year, Laura Blair is a delight as Fairy Flutterby. Her stunning voice might juxtapose her sleeves-up fairy, but this magical being means business.

Under Will Marshall’s direction, Eden Court’s in-house band boom out an eclectic array of music that suits all tastes, so while wee ones boogie away to Dua Lipa, the mums and dads can air-guitar to the Bay City Rollers.

Baddie Carabosse (Nicola Auld) brings evil to this fairytale and does so in bucketloads. The manic cycle of booing this baddie, only to be greeted with more hysterical laughter to boo is the cherry on top.

Eric Potts‘ script, with additional material by Steven Wren, is a laugh-a-minute joyride through the pantosphere. It runs along perfectly for wee ones, with plenty to keep restless everyone entertained.

A last-minute cast swap adds to the drama, as titular Beauty (Tia Bobbi Henry) is replaced with ensemble member Sophie Scott just hours before the curtain rises. It’s a testament to Scott that she slots into this impeccably timed panto without missing a beat, and to the strength of the ensemble for pulling together without a crucial member of their team.

Year on year, Inverness’ Eden Court delivers one of the best pantomimes in the country. This year’s offering, Sleeping Beauty, ensures this accolade remains with a rib-tickling royal fairytale that fills you with festive sparkle. If this year’s Sleeping Beauty tells you nothing else, you better be quick to book your tickets for Jack and the Beanstalk next year!

Sleeping Beauty at Eden Court, Inverness until Sunday 7th January 2024