THE name of well-known Valleys playwright Frank Vickery might not be considered synonymous with pantomime.

His prolific output, so far consisting of 25 stage plays, as well as numerous television and radio scripts, largely concerns itself with the finer points of modern relationships - sometimes sad, often funny, and very poignant - but when his old friend Owen Money offered him a part in Cinderella, the master wordsmith found the pull of panto irresistible.

Mono caught up with Mr Vickery for a few minutes, literally in between performances at Aberdare's Coliseum Theatre, to find out what the attraction was.

"It's just something I'd never done before, and when I heard they were looking for someone to play the Baron, Cinderella's father, I was really keen - though if I hadn't made it clear I was interested, I don't think Owen would have dreamt of asking me," he said.

Cinderella is currently touring Wales, arriving at Blackwood Miners' Institute on December 10.

Very much an added incentive was the involvement of leading director Michael Bogdanov, of National Theatre fame.

He continued: "That was the cherry on the cake - first of all to have the chance to be in panto, then to have Michael on board is amazing. The fact that we have this incredibly renowned director taking on Cinderella is fantastic."

As well as his role as associate director of the National from 1980-83, Mr Bogdanov co-founded and became the joint artistic director of the English Shakespeare Company.

Is Mr Vickery enjoying himself? You bet.

"The kids' enjoyment is just infectious, they're screaming the house down. Making children laugh is really so much fun - I'm enjoying it immensely," he said.

Turning to his own work, Mono asked him why his plays, mainly dealing with Valleys people and lives, have developed such a broad appeal.

He said: "I think quite simply it's the humour. If you can make people in the Valleys laugh, you can make them laugh anywhere.

"My plays have been performed all over the country, and the audience identifies with the same key human issues, whoever they are."

He's performing again in the new year in a new production of one of his own plays, Trivial Pursuits, which tours venues throughout Wales.

Cinderella is at Blackwood Miners' Institute, December 10-30, and tickets are priced at £8.50, with discounts for families. For full details call 01495 227206.