When the world seems a dangerous and depressing place, just take a few hours off and renew your happy inner child.
Go and see the Oldham Coliseum Panto! Every year it gets better and better.
I have heard that there are actually some snooty people who don't like panto. More fools them.
Pantomime has a long tradition going right back to Ancient Greece and Rome, down through Medieval Mummers Plays, with connections to Commedia della Arte.
It has strict conventions. The Good Fairy/Godmother enters from Stage Right (left for the audience) and the Villain for Stage Left (right for the audience).
This goes back to the Mystery Plays of the Middles Ages, where the Right represented Heaven and the Left Hell.
The Coliseum Panto always includes the classic cross dressing, Principal Boy as a girl and the Dames as older men in drag.
There is a slapstick scene when the comic characters chuck sloppy stuff at one another, a ghost scene where the comic characters sing a silly song and one by one get picked off by a ghost until the Dame frightens the ghost away.
There are some risque double entendres for the adults and some broad humour for the kids. This year the Ugly Sisters, Fine Time Fontayne and Simeon Truby are called Pumpy and Trumpy Squeezepocket.
The younger members of the audience howled with laughter at the swearing but the adults were, perhaps, amused by the satirical references to a notable American, who did not make it to a US memorial on Remembrance Weekend, because it rained.
There isn't a weak link in this production, a splendid example of a huge team effort, from director Kevin Shaw to his superb design team led by Celia Perkins.
The sets and the costumes are magnificent.
The cast are terrific. Apart from the aforementioned hilarious ugly sisters, Sue Delany (a Coliseum favourite) makes a wonderfully villainous stepmother, Countess Vyella Squeezepocket. I am quite proud that my own two stepdaughters lovingly, teasingly call me the wicked stepmother.
Shorelle Hepkin is a charming Cinderella with a lovely voice, well matched by Chante Faucher as Prince Charming.
Nisha Anil adapts cleverly from Fairy Godmother to Dandini and Mitesh Soni has some highly amusing sketches as Baron Boothby Mothwallet, Cinderella's father.
Have I left anyone out? Oh Yes I have! Richard J Fletcher. I am a fan of yours. I have seen you in other productions and also several pantos. This year you are Buttons. I admire your energetic dancing, athletic pratfalls and your ability to engage the audience. This year you have a solo song, which is very moving.
The young dancers are charming and the whole performance is really great. In fact I am smiling as I write this.