Oh no! The lovely Princess Belle has been cursed by the wicked Carabosse, in revenge for not being invited to her first birthday party, and is doomed to die on her 18th birthday by pricking her finger on a spindle. What’s to be done? Her father, the very clumsy King Bumble, bans all spinning wheels from the land, but Carabosse has a cunning plan . . . Can Belle’s beloved Prince Valiant save her? Well, I’m sure you know the answer, but you’ll never guess how he does it . . .

This is a traditional Sleeping Beauty story but with some new twists — so even though you know the story, there are surprises around every corner.

This is a lively, sparkling and fun-filled evening, with all the usual panto comedy and slapstick, together with sumptuous costumes and some great ensemble dancing and singing.

Justin Fletcher — an award-winning presenter with CBeebies — is perfectly cast as Josh the Jester, striking up an instant rapport with the younger members of the audience with his cheerful banter and general silliness. He and Jolyon Dixon — a formidable Nanny Nora, with designs on King Bumble — have great fun as they attempt to bake a cake to mark Belle’s 18th birthday, with predictably disastrous results.

Emmerdale’s Leah Bracknell, sporting an outsize purple wig, is magnificent as Carabosse, looking and sounding every inch the pantomime baddie. Jane Tucker — best known for children’s TV show Rainbow — is equally impressive as Azuriel, the good fairy, who is really up against it as she tries to counter Carabosse’s evil plans. Clare Waugh cuts a dashing figure as the heroic Prince, Lauren Harrison is a sweet, innocent Belle and Nigel Nevinson a genial King, while Howard Gossington cleverly handles the contrasting roles of the King’s right-hand man, Fusspot, and Carabosse’s sidekick, Slim.

Sleeping Beauty continues at The Hexagon, Reading, until January 2. Box office: 0118 960 6060.