The audience are strapped back in their seats and the curtain rises for the second half of 'Puss in Boots.'
'Is it half way already?' says Mrs Slocombe, who is getting ready for her role as The Sultana Bun.
'Yes, thank goodness,' I say. 'There's still a lot to cram in before Friday, though, so we'd better get a crack on.'
Mrs Bennet, looking most authoratitive in a pair of breeches, waistcoat and tails, strides onto the stage as Alderman Warren, a simpering Mrs Pumphrey/ Alice in her...I mean, his...wake.
'I'm off to make my fortune,
Away across the sea.
I have free passage on my boat
If you want to come with me!'
(Blimey, I am on a poetic roll this evening! Kazaam!!!)
And Dick/ Richard/Ptolemy steps forward...
'I'll go with you, fearless sir,
I really fancy that
In foreign climbs, my fortune I'll find
By selling off my cat!'
'Oi!' says Flora in Boots. 'I've served you kindly, Dick old chap,
By seeing off the vermin
You can't sell me, I'm full of fleas
And could really do with wormin'.'
'That's very good,' whispers Mrs Slocombe. 'Marvellous scansion.'
'I know,' I say. 'I should be a proper writer, shouldn't I?'
'Maybe a bit ambitious,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Now Katie Price - there's a writer.'
Back on stage the scene has shifted to the dockside and the good ship 'The Saucy Sally.'
'It's an odd name for a ship, 'The Saucy Sally,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Is it shipping ketchup?'
'No...' I say.
'Mayonnaise? How about custard? Is custard a sauce?' says Mrs Slocombe.
'I think it might be more to do with reminding the sailors of their lady loves, left at home for months on end whilst the men travel the high seas,' I say.
'Sailors get upset about leaving ketchup at home?' says Mrs Slocombe.
I decide we are going nowhere with this conversation so choose to ignore Mrs Slocombe and watch the song and dance routine that is in full sea shanty on stage. Glancing up at the Phantomime's box I can just see a figure in the gloom, looking, I think, ever so slightly taller than before. Must be utilising the complementary booster cushion, I think.
The cast have now embarked The Saucy Sally and are flinging themselves around and screaming wildly in order to simulate a storm at sea. Despite the express instructions of Mrs Miggins not to, several of the cast have donned elements of pirate garb - eyepatches, hooks for hands and carrots for parrots - and I am a little glad she is still confined to the props cupboard because if she could see this dissension she would be a bit cross.
'I might not be able to see it!' comes a shout from the prop cupboard, 'but I can hear all the 'yo-ho-hoing' and 'shiver me timbering' and plus, I do think you ought to open this door because there is something very important you should know.'
'Not long to go now!' I call back. 'Hang on in there, Mrs Miggins. Would you like some more pizza? Or any other kind of flat food?'
'No!' shouts Mrs Miggins. 'Just open the...'
Her shouts are drowned out as 'The Saucy Sally' is flung upwards on the highest of highest waves and then sinks...and cue the primary rodents who are now doubling up as primary crabs, shrimps, lobsters and oysters to perform an 'Under the Sea' routine featuring Claude and Claudette as catfish.
And the scene ends with the cast scrabbling onto the shores of some foreign clime and being met by the sovereign head, the Sultana Bun aka Mrs Slocombe.
'Welcome to my island, friends!
Welcome, one and all
Come back to my palace with me
We're bound to have a ball!'
And so the cast follow Sultana Bun back to her palace via the medium of conga, and so the scene changes.
Up in the Phantomime's box Tango Pete has engaged Dame Hamlet in a game of backgammon.
'I must say,' says Dame Hamlet, 'that it's been an absolute pleasure meeting such an educated gentleman. So different to my Kenneth. I don't suppose you would consider allowing me to adopt you?'
Tango Pete laughs coquettishly, p'raps rather too coquettishly for a manly cockerel.
'I am flattered, ma'am,' says he. 'But my loyalties lie with another. I am waiting for the Phantomime to deliver unto me my own true love, Mrs Pumphrey.'
Dame Hamlet pauses in her next backgammon move. 'Kenneth is assisting you in a matter of love?' she says.
'He is,' says Tango Pete. 'It's odd, but the Phantomime had such bad press when he arrived that I didn't think I'd trust him for toffee but...'
Dame Hamlet fixes Tango Pete with a blazing stare. 'He didn't ask you...to...to trust him, did he?' she whispers.
Tango Pete nods. 'Yes, he did,' he says. 'Why? Is that a problem?'
Dame Hamlet closes her eyes, and sighs.
'Oh dear,' she says. 'Oh dearie, dearie dear.'