PETER Doran's Dick Whittington returns to Milford Haven's Torch Theatre for the festive season bringing with it the usual mixture of slapstick, innuendo, original songs and audience participation.

There are rats aplenty in this production, from the magnificently malicious King Rat, played by the facially- expressive Sion Ifan; Rowland Rat type puppets singing in sunglasses; puppets popping up in the kitchen and others scuttling across the stage.

They are eventually put in their place by Tommy the cat, a streetwise feline in shades with delectable dance moves played to perfection by Oraine Johnson, and of course the eponymous hero Dick, a nice Welsh boy (from Gloucester) played by Joseph Robinson.

From the start of the panto there is plenty of scope for audience participation, although I must admit it was nearly too much for a weekday evening audience; we missed a fair few cues but that only added to the fun.

The panto looks delectable with stunning sets and costumes from Sean Crowley, I particularly liked Bow Belles, played with wit and warmth by Francesca Goodridge, who could have been your typical rhyming couplet panto fairy but instead was herself a giant bell. A clever take on a panto favourite.

The production also sounds pretty good with a great scattering of original songs by James Williams, some which are real earworms and will have you humming al the way home. We particularly liked Disco Cake and Turn Again Dick Whittington.

It wouldn't be a Torch panto without Dion Davies' dame. Dion has been Milford's dame since 2010 and really did a beautifully bawdy job as Dick's mother, Sarah the Cook. Think lots of Dick jokes, smutty asides to the audience and some lusciously lurid costumes.

The panto worked on a lot of levels; with the Dick jokes going over the kids' heads, thankfully, the slapstick water spitting, which I didn't like at all, was my junior reviewer's favourite part.

The Torch last performed Dick Whittington in 2012, and although updated by Boris Johnson, Brexit and Gary Neville jokes, I felt it was still a little too fresh in my memory from last time around.

This could be a compliment to the memorability of Peter Doran's script and James Williams' songs or a sign that a greater gap is needed between repeating shows.

It's probably a long enough gap so that kids won't remember its previous incarnation, and even if they do they love repetition, but avid grown up panto goers might need a longer break.

This aside though Dick Whittington has all the ingredients for a fab family panto and great performances from a hard-working cast. Add to this Sean Crowley's eye-catching design and James Williams' catchy songs and you are in for a Christmas cracker of a family treat.

Dick Whittington plays at the Torch Theatre until Saturday, December 30.