In these times of fiscal prudence and a national obsession with glamour and celebrity, a tale of temptation by the twin evils of gold and glamour is strangely topical.
Mother Goose is the panto for our times and, in the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds production, it’s never been better.
Fairy Fortuna and Demon Discordo place a wager and poor Mother Goose finds herself the unwilling protagonist in a supernatural game of one-upmanship. Will Mother Goose succumb to greed once Priscilla the Goose starts to lay golden eggs? And how will her life change if she succumbs to the allure of the mystical Pool of Beauty? Not of course that it pays to over-analyse the plot; what really matters is the fun, and Mother Goose packs this in by the bucket load.
From the moment the show starts, the audience are gripped, with young – and not so young – loudly cheering the heroes, booing the villains and singing along with the obligatory songs. It’s all good traditional fun and shows that you don’t need a C list soap star to make a panto work.
Panto is notoriously hard work for its cast and it’s a credit to the company that they make it all look so easy. Dennis Herdman’s Mother Goose is a masterclass in how to perform Panto Dame, suitably over the top but also, perhaps scarily, utterly convincing.
Simon Nock and Emma Thornett battle wonderfully as good versus evil, while Eleanor Brown shines as German tutor Gretchen, seconded to Goosleand from an unpronounceable Germanic town to improve her English. Special mention must, of course, go to Priscilla herself, with the diminutive Claire Baldry managing to make a 7 feet high tap-dancing goose seem utterly believable. This is, however, a company on top form without a weak link.
Daniel O’Brien’s script packs in enough egg-related gags to keep audiences laughing until Easter and Abigail Anderson’s slick direction keeps the action flying thick and fast.
Much like Priscilla’s eggs, Mother Goose is pure gold; a stupendous, sublime, superb seasonal offering.
There is as always a wide variety of pantos filling the region’s stages; however, you will need to a long way to find a more ‘eggcellent’ pantomime than this.
Photo: Gareth Bennett-Ryan and Goslings in Mother Goose. Photo Keith Mindham