As soon as the curtains opened we were transported to the woods with some very impressive setwork - including a lifesized tree - and the entire cast singing their hearts out to welcome the audience in.
Little Red Riding Hood’s script, written by Isabel Forrester who co-directs with Gail Hinkins, is an excellent modern retelling of the classic tale.
There’s plenty of positive messages for youngsters to learn from here. We have a heroine in Red who wants to go to university to be a scientist instead of finding the man of her dreams, much to the chagrin of her parents - played delightfully by Yvonne Bates and Tommy Peckham.
Our hero, Joseph, is also an environmentalist who is trying to save the endangered lesser-spotted ‘motherby’ from extinction and prevent his beloved forest from being destroyed by the baddies who are hellbent on building a bypass through the wood - another nod to current affairs.
Who knew Horncastle has such talent - Rachel Yates as Red can not only act but is a wonderful singer and dancer, and Chris Liversidge as Nanny the Dame is very witty and had a great rapport with the cast.
Our villain - Wolfgang, a hilarious Jon Cooke channelling a London gangster - is brilliantly dastardly and his two hapless henchmen Bob and Job (Shane Kelley and Kaye Hieatt) deserve their own slapstick TV show as their comedy timing was spot-on.
There’s also plenty of traditional “he’s behind you!” and “oh no he isn’t!” to keep panto fans happy, as well as a smattering of flatulence caused by a vegan diet to keep young children rolling in the aisles and some cheeky adult gags that will make the grown-ups smirk.
More senior members of the audience will also chuckle at dress-maker to the stars - but not Beyonce or Kim Kardashian - Madame Kisby’s Allo Allo-inspired French accent, complete with a “good moaning”.
There’s also plenty of in-jokes that local people will instantly relate to - a nod to the flooding defences on Banks Street for one, a famous bloke called Joseph Banks, watching the horse racing at Market Rasen and the hard-working Lions who can be frequently seen marshalling events and putting up Christmas lights.
All in all, Little Red Riding Hood is simply delightful and the whole cast and crew should be very proud to have pulled off such a fantastic show in these difficult times.
Tickets cost just £7 - an absolute bargain when you see how professional and slick the show is - and can be purchased on the theatre’s website at horncastletheatre.co.uk/.