REVIEW: Cromer’s Seaside Special is the perfect patriotic prescription

If laughter is therapeutic and hearty fun is good for the ticker, then GPs should write out a new prescription - take a strong dose of Cromer's Summer Seaside Special.

For despite hitting 35 - the age where footballers hang up their boots - this great British institution is still kicking and is a powerful restorative.

At its opening night on Saturday, I confess to fearing that the Pride - a Festival of Britain theme would be one patriotic pill too many for audiences that are sampling a summer-long diet of red, white and blue with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics.

But, while the union flags were flying - even on the dancers' hot pants and brollies - it stopped short of schmaltz.

And the key - which has unlocked the door to success and longevity for the Seaside Special - is variety.

For where else can you get Irish dancing, luminous hula hoops, a medley of Tom Jones hits, a Russian contortionist, James Bond, a sextet of Beatles songs and a headless lady in just two hours?

Much of the credit for the success of the latest show must go to headliners Dain Cordean and Ben Langley, who had the hardest of all acts to follow in the shape of last year's top man, the ventriloquist Steve Howlett.

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They certainly succeeded, though, by dishing up a diet of magic, juggling and a load of laugh out loud moments.

Dain has spent recent years entertaining on cruise ships. Audiences will be heartily glad that he has run aground at Cromer for three months.

For if variety is the spice of life, Dain has got the full range of flavours.

A pinch of magic, a taste of illusion, a sprinkling of slapstick and a cupful of comedy all go into the mix - with delicious results.

His illusion spot with metal rings was spellbinding.

And he showed he is game for a laugh - and a challenge - by teaming up with Ben to tell a story that namechecked 50 UK gameshows in two minutes. If you've ever wondered how to throw Challenge Anneka and Million Pound Drop Live into casual conversation, don't miss this.

On his own, Ben's juggling was remarkable, particularly when he juggled two machetes and an apple - which he took bites out of while keeping all three in the air.

But the real show-stopping moment came when cat-suited Karina Grigorieva balanced on her hands on two poles on top of a table - and somehow bent her body over backwards to snatch a toy rat from the table top with her teeth.

Throw in the Irish dancing, which received a rousing ovation, and a well-balanced selection of sing-along songs by Sophie Bloom and Rob McVeigh, plus breathtaking dance moves by the Seaside Special dancers, and the recipe is complete.

Deviser, director and choreographer - or should that be head chef? - Di Cooke has again got the balance just right.

? Seaside Special runs until September 29 on Cromer Pier. Show two, Galleria, begins on Saturday June 30. For tickets to either of the shows, call the box office on 01263 512495.