Theatre Royal Brighton
An Eggceptional Panto Worth Its Weight In Gold
The star-studded pantomime Mother Goose has swung open its doors to Gooseland and is off to a truly cracking start. This is no ordinary panto, oh no it isn’t, this production is an amalgamation of endless talent that soars above and beyond what you would eggcpect from your traditional panto.
And just in case you haven’t heard of the story before, which celebrates 120 years since its first performance at the Drury Lane Theatre in 1902, Mother Goose is the tale of a loving couple doing their utmost to care for their adorable family of creatures in their little animal sanctuary. Looking to settle a debate, the good fairy godmother Encanta and her evil counterpart Malignia put the family’s good hearts to the test as they are gifted with a Goose that lays Golden Eggs. But even with riches beyond their wildest dreams, we explore whether they can resist the further temptations that befall them as greed begins to manifest, just as Malignia had planned. Every panto needs a great villain, right?
Sir Ian McKellen plays the dame and beloved Mother Goose to perfection. He holds the crowd’s attention with a lifetime of acting experience, his great sense of humour, big booming voice and lustrous costume changes of course. It’s a role he was born to play, as he recalls his first time being inspired by pantomime at the age of 8 in Bolton. This isn’t his first rodeo and he is simply fabulous. Add to this the very lovable comedian John Bishop, who plays Mother Goose’s lovingly simple husband Vic, and you’ve got a cracking combination of entertainers leading a very talented cast, the chemistry between them both is brilliant with plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments and wonderfully absurd comedy.
But it’s not just our leading lady and man that bring the talent to the stage, the cast is full of mind-blowing singers that, mixed with the live orchestra in the pit, will have your feathers standing on edge. The soaring voices of Karen Mavundukure (Malignia) and Anna Jane Casey (The Goose) in particular were stunning, making the show feel more like an authentic west end musical at times in all of the right ways, especially with the beautiful choreography throughout.
The audience are treated to a host of colourful characters as there is a huge variety of all-singing, all-dancing animals, a few of which are portrayed through stunning puppets too! Fans of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit will also love to see Adam Brown reunited with Ian McKellen on stage, which I thought was a really nice touch too as the franchise is referenced several times to create a few comical moments for fans.
Mother Goose is British entertainment at its very finest. Whilst it will be loved by the whole family as every good pantomime should be, there were so many adults in the audience without children that proves it really is for big kids too! It’s a feel-good fast-paced show that is eggcellent value for money; it’s the show we all need right now.
Mother Goose will be playing live at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre from Thursday 15 Dec 2022 to Sunday 29 Jan 2023, where it will then embark on a UK wide tour which includes a return to Sussex at the Chichester Festival Theatre. To find out more and book your tickets visit mothergooseshow.co.uk.
Reviewer: Stephen Sheldrake
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan