Beauty and the Beast, David Cregan and Brian Protheroe's non-starry panto, currently at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, has no Gladiators or soap stars, preferring to concentrate on quality rather than bulk. There's also a strong Afro-Asian element in the cast - something shamefully unusual in the world of panto. Judging by the reviews, the theatre's policy of fusing fresh talent with contemporary themes has paid off. Matthew Sweet, writing in the Independent on Sunday, was certainly won over: "The strength of Stratford's Beauty and the Beast is that it doesn't patronise its audience with second-rate material you couldn't get away with at any other time of year."

Oh no it doesn't.

`Beauty and the Beast' continues at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, London (0181-534 0310) to 25 Jan