IT is traditional that pantomime plays fast and loose with the cherished stories of folklore. However, few Scottish playhouses are more creative with well-kent narratives than Perth Theatre.

Every winter the Fair City does a loan deal with the Dundee Rep Theatre which allows actor Barrie Hunter (who is a member of the Rep’s ensemble) to write, direct and perform in the Perth panto. The outcome is always a uniquely contemporary take on a well-worn story.

This year Hunter has come up with a belter. Our hero Aladdin McTwankie (Tiger Mitchell on naïve but likeable form), a denizen of the declining village of Vranknock, is a boy with a dream … of becoming a professional potholer.

His desperate hope of turning his hobby into gainful employment makes him an easy target for the malicious intentions of deliciously evil baddie Abi McCrankie, the Countess of KillieKrankie (played by the fabulous Perth panto regular Helen Logan).

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KillieKrankie, it should be said, is a fictional place not to be confused with the Highland Perthshire village with the suspiciously similar name (or, indeed, the Czech experimental electronic music duo with an identical name).

You see, the Countess wants to retrieve the old lamp (containing Kirsty Malone’s humorous Jeannie the genie) so that she can leave behind the boredom of life in the big hoose and instead have anything her heart desires. Problem is, she reckons the lamp has been washed into one of the area’s famous caves.

If only there was a local potholer who could retrieve the wretched object for her. Cue a tale of deception, greed and red squirrels.

Aye, red squirrels (played by the youngsters of Perth Theatre’s community chorus). Not only is the Countess a greedy so-and-so, but she is so unconcerned with the environment that she runs around the forest with a chainsaw destroying the squirrels’ habitat in her search for the lamp.

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Indeed, she also employs an ecologically dubious Dundonian laundry company, thereby robbing local laundress – Aladdin’s mum Margarita McTwankie (the luridly excellent Hunter) – of her last remaining contract.

The fragrant … er, sorry, flatulent Margarita and her sons, Aladdin and wannabe pop star Hank E. McTwankie (Hunter’s regular – and brilliant – partner in pantomime crime Ewan Somers), are facing penury.

Fear not, however, a typically bonkers subplot involving an adopted young woman (the excellent Rachel Flynn) and her search for her birth mother ensures that a happy ending is had by all. But not, of course, before there’s been plenty of song and dance numbers.

On which subject – spare a thought for the member of Perth Theatre staff whose job it is to secure the music rights. From Rihanna’s hit Umbrella, through Defying Gravity (the showstopper from the stage musical Wicked) to Kool & The Gang’s funk classic Celebration, Hunter’s crazy script bristles with popular songs. This is the gloriously ludicrous dame’s 13th consecutive Perth pantomime.

As this preposterously imaginative show proves, 13 can be a lucky number.

Until December 31: