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Mother Goose (review)

Mother Goose. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

Mother Goose. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

Have a gander at this year’s cracking panto, Mother Goose, that’s now playing at Watford Palace Theatre. It really is an eggcellent show! (plenty more egg jokes to come folks – it is the silly season after all!)

We scrambled to find our seats amid a Wednesday matinee audience of school parties and I couldn’t have been more delighted. My other half didn’t know what he was in for but, by the end of the afternoon, he was up doing the Goosey Goosey song and thoroughly enjoying himself. Who says pantos are just for kids?

WPT excels in staging good old fashioned pantos. No big names, no glitz and glitter. Instead they return to inventive story-telling and lots of fun.

The cast cracked lots of yolks – sorry, jokes – and poached a few ideas from other tales (which panto story doesn’t?) but, ultimately, this cautionary tale of greed makes a refreshing change from the regulars like Cinders and Snow White.

The dame is a game old bird called Mother Goose (Terence Frisch) who is in danger of losing her home after falling behind with the rent. She has a workshy son called Silly Billy who is a bit of a bird brain. He’s not got much up top though, like a lot of male birds, he is cute to look at.

The family are stuck in a power struggle between good and evil (natch). Fairy Twitter spends her time on her mobile keeping her followers updated and, in-between, tries to help the Goose family get out of their financial demise.

But there’s a very bad egg called, aptly, Beezlebug Baddegg, who is determined to prove that Mother Goose and her son are corruptible when temptation is thrown in their way.

There’s a girl – of course – Milly – for the usual soppy love story - and a most splendid and elegant goose called Priscilla who, not only can lay golden eggs, but she’s pretty nimble on her feet.

There are guest appearances by pop promoter “Simon Owl,” who runs an Eggs Factor competition, and a style guru called Duck Wan who tries to remodel the vain Mother Goose.

Philip Cox, as Baddegg (boo!) expertly whipped up the audience to fever pitch and did everything that was expected of him. Frisch was a grand dame who wore a succession of whacky costumes. He’s not the world’s most natural singer but you can get away with anything when supported by a first rate backing band.

We last saw the lovely Robert Rees (Billy) at the Royal & Derngate with Hayley Mills in Ladies In Lavender (it’s going to the West End next year and it’s superb) and he doesn’t disappoint in panto. It’s not surprising little Milly (Jill McAusland who looks about 12) falls for him.

As sure as eggs is eggs there’s a happy ending and the young audience went home hoarse after screaming themselves silly. I loved every minute of it.

Mother Goose runs until December 29. For tickets call the box office 01923 225671 or go online www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk
ANNE COX

 

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