Pros: A lovingly crafted pantomime with a strong moral compass.
Cons: The casts’ microphones could have been slightly louder during some musical numbers.
Before I start, I have a confession: I’m a sucker for a panto. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m usually so well-behaved at the theatre but there’s something really satisfying about hissing, booing and “oh no he isn’t”ing. After the ups and downs of 2016, I was cheered at the prospect of Mother Goose, a panto that promised to set aside “referendums and politicians” for an evening and have some good, daft fun instead.
This was my first visit to Wilton’s Music Hall and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The venue is one of the most atmospheric and unique I have ever visited. The low ceilings and rough stone walls reminded me of a Hungarian “ruin pub” and made the venue feel earthy, cosy and welcoming.
My admitted bias to one side, I was impressed with the quality of Mother Goose. It was clear that great care had been taken in putting the show together. The lighting, staging, costumes and live music were all impressive for a production of this size. The small cast was enthusiastic, talented and were clearly enjoying themselves. Particular mention has to go to Gareth Davies as the larger than life baddie Vanity and Ian Jones as the pantomime dame’s loveable son Willy.
Some of the call and response moments in the show were a little lacklustre due to Wilton’s being a small venue, but the cast’s patter and excellent ad-libbing helped to counter any misfired jokes or missed cues. The show also had a number of great set pieces, including a hilarious reworking of’ ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ sung at break neck pace and a brilliantly executed fake-mirror mime between Hudd and Jones.
What elevated Mother Goose above the pantos of my Christmasses past was the nods to Wilton’s history through several music hall numbers. The show was also less bawdy and adult-rated than some I have seen and had a refreshingly clear moral at its centre.
Mother Goose is a warm hearted show with a clear and positive message. A wonderful, festive family night out that I would recommend to any panto fans.
Author: Roy Hudd
Director: Debbie Flitcroft
Musical Director: Steven Geraghty
Box Office: 020 7702 2789
Booking Link: https://www.wiltons.org.uk/whatson/208-mother-goose
Booking Until: 31 December 2016