Le Navet Bete at Barbican Theatre
THE final day of November: we need to talk about the C word, P word and the N word.
There is a chance that panto is not your favourite Christmas entertainment.
If circus/slapstick/hilarious physical theatre is, there is hope.
Le Navet Bete – "daft turnip", apparently – bill their Greatest Story... Never Told as the perfect antidote to the Christmas panto.
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It's also fun port of call if you are at risk of being school over-nativitied, too.
All of the elements you would expect from the first Christmas story are there, among them Mary, Joseph, Herod and lots of sheep. And there are a few you wouldn't usually encounter, Engelbert Humperdink makes an appearance and, as the cast is all-male, Mary is played by a bloke.
The troupe was founded in 2008 by a group of theatre and performance at Plymouth University as part of performance project which then turned into a job. They haven't looked back since, although they have moved down the A38 to a base in Exeter.
Their tours have reached rather farther, including Mexico.
The Greatest Story... Never Told premiered at the Barbican Theatre last year and returns by popular demand, and tweaked, from December 7 to 23 this year.
The alternative for younger children at the Theatre Royal is in the Drum. The Hare and the Tortoise is based on the Aesop fable and gets an Olympic-romp treatment from energetic and enthusiastic puppet people Stuff & Nonsense.
They had children – and quite a few grown-ups – spellbound last Christmas with The Elves And The Shoemaker.
This time Hare has the drive of boxer Rocky while Tortoise offers the sensitivity of a Lancastrian fell walker. Stroll along for the journey with the speed and stamina merchants from December 4 to January 19.
And the alternative to the alternatives for more grown-up grown-ups is Barbershopera's The Three Musketeers.
Alexandre Dumas' adventure story comes with four-part harmonies, as three guys and a gal sing you a dashing tale.
This has Nicole d'Artagnan posing as a chap to recruit the help of the famous sword-fighting trio to save her village from the dastardly Cardinal Richtea . What follows is Blackadder meets Gilbert and Sullivan in 17th-century France.
For those who do love their panto the big Theatre Royal show is in front of you. Dick Whittington seeks fame and fortune, aided by Christopher Biggins and Basil Brush, from December 14 to January 19.