Mother Goose

Legendary panto-maker Peter Duncan brings us a panto with Eggs Factor.
Oxford Playhouse, Fri 2nd December 2011 - Sun 15th January 2012

December 12, 2011
A packed theatre, hundreds of excited children (of all ages), a glittering, slick, fast-moving show, and a strong, ensemble company all enjoying themselves: this is the recipe for a very good, traditional pantomime in Oxford this year.

First we meet the Wicked Witch of Walberswick, who confuses both audience and cast by changing the pantomime’s title – five times – but she is reigned in by the Good Fairy of Garsington, who stabilises everything and gets our story going, so we like her, and we boo the Wicked One, especially since she seems to be green!

Poor Mother Goose; she’s got a tomboy daughter, Jilly, who is not interested in romance, a silly Billy son, who must have been raised on Tyneside, a tired-of-laying goose, Eldorada, and she owes six months’ rent to the miserly Duke of Kidlington. Fortunately, the Duke decides he rather fancies Mum Goose after she pays her arrears with one of Eldorada’s new, golden, eggs, and the Duke’s son takes an interest in tomboy Jilly: life is suddenly wonderful, and Mother Goose is rich enough to afford a new outfit from TK Max. But beware, children: like life, there is more to come. The Wicked, scheming green witch tempts mum with a Faustian promise, and she gives away her goose in the name of vanity. Thankfully the Garsington Witch comes back to save the day, with our help of course.

From the lovely overture medley of contemporary and classic tunes to the colourful wedding which ends the story, this is a vivid, colourful, fast-moving show, well told by a strong all-round cast, and technically excellently run. Chris Larner is a doleful Mother with a sharp wit, and displayed wonderful pathos when presented with the dilemma of keeping her beloved goose or gaining the good looks she always wished for. A truly three-dimensional person, rare among pantomime dames.

Nick Lumley adds solid, seasoned, professional support as the Duke, and Paul Charlton’s astonishing energy as Billy was enough to tire us just by watching him. He made us willingly warn him when bad people went near ‘the big red button’, sing along with his songs, and scream for the sweets that he threw all over the auditorium.

A charming and compelling show. And that’s not just from me: my two-year-old son was silent, still, and spellbound - for the whole time.
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