Even in panto season, a thousand-year-old epic featuring monsters, dipsomaniac royals and a lot of carnage is a brave choice.

Director-writer John Savournin has softened some aspects and sharpened others, and has also cast himself (plus impressive fake bosom) as the mother of Grendel, the fearsome beast which puts the Danes off their mead. All seems lost – except, as winsome Spirit of Good Cheer Sian Winstanley points out, the clue is in the title.

Enter Beowulf, unafraid of any terrifying creature, with the exception of the king’s tuneful daughter. Charles Court Opera is fresh from a successful ‘Mikado’, and there are some lovely voices here – versatile, too, which is fortunate, since Queen, ‘Monty Python’s Eric Idle and even Bonnie Tyler are all pressed into service.

The adults giggle at an unlikely replay of ‘Dirty Dancing’; smaller folk get the chance to dodge doughballs – or return fire.

Kevin Kyle’s Beowulf is particularly impressive, but I wish the legend could have been tweaked a little further. If Savournin can change the fate of Grendel and his nemesis, could he not have given the women something more to do than look pretty (or ugly), sing sweetly and wave the men off to slay dragons?


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