WHILE many theatre shows across Oxfordshire have been hit by cancellations due to the scourge of Covid, a keen company of amateur actors are determined that their show must go on.

Wallingford's Sinodun players' will stage their annual pantomime Sleeping Beauty at Wallingford’s Corn Exchange this month.

And performances are selling extremely well, say the group.

To improve the safety and comfort of the audience, two large fans have been upgraded in the auditorium to help purify the air passing through them, with ultraviolet light to help neutralise up to 99 per cent of germs and viruses, including coronavirus. This is in addition to the existing Covid safety measures, such as mask wearing.

Additionally, to ensure the safety of the cast and crew, two mobile hospital grade air purification units have been installed back-stage. These units filter, sterilise and recirculate the air through the use of filters and ultra-violet light.

It has not been easy for the organisers and the cast to reach this point as there have been challenges and worries along the way.

Despite uncertainty, Gloria Wright, chairwoman of the Sinodun Players, has been trying to stay positive. She said: “You can plan and plan, but with everything that is going on, sometime, you are not in control. I have never had to work in a time where there is so much uncertainty.”

For Fiona Huntingford-Ledger, who plays Pillock, rehearsals are going well, yet according to her, they feel a bit different because of the measures the theatre has made for the safety of the cast, like mask wearing.

The pantomime is not only important for her, as everyone involved has made a lot of effort to make it happen, but also for the people who come to see it.

She said: “Wallingford's Corn Exchange has had a following for so many years. People come as children and then they come as adults, and they bring their children. For some of them, it has become like a tradition.”

Tom Mackriell, who plays Pollock, said that pantomimes are important as they are usually the first time children experience the theatre, like it was his case.

He said: “Every year my school would take us to watch the pantomime, it is one of my most loved first memories. The way characters interact with the audience and everything that happened on the stage is still in my memory. Things like that are what made me want to do theatre.”

The Corn Exchange hosts five productions a year by the Sinodun Players, including its annual pantomime in January – a show that brings in the majority of the its income.

Tickets are available from January 14-29. Go to cornexchange.org.uk