In Banana Bag And Bodice’s hands, Beowulf is a middle-aged Tom Selleck double who arrives singing, “I’m a sexy mother f***er”.

He’s an overgrown kid with a ferrety tash and glasses – and he wants to fight a dragon.

Grendel, his nemesis, is a young buck, a double for Beck. He’s got an attitude problem and swills beer as if he’s in a bar in downtown New York. Deep down, though, he’s a wuss. He wants his mother.

Exaggerated comic characters are central to this version of a very Old English poem, which has been made by those who can play with language without the burden of history.

It’s a kooky modern American take which feels like Elf meets Cabaret. It’s clever. The rivals sort out their differences with a thumb war. Beowulf’s travels to the lake are explained using water tanks.

A geeky academic and her tarty assistant, who turns out to be Grendel’s mum (she is the vengeful baggage of the show, “better to retaliate than mourn”), fill in the narrative gaps.

The scholar brings the debate between intellect and feeling, dragon metaphors and some pithy analysis.

The music is a treat – Balkan brass, oompah, King Hrothgar’s Jerry Lee Lewis piano playing.

Remove the swearing and it’s an introductory show for youngsters, or big kids.