Hackney Empire are ready to make Christmas once again, with a top notch Mother Goose. All eyes are on grande dame Clive Rowe as the big MG herself and this year’s director. Tonight, we’re in ‘Hackneywood’, the town where social media stars are made, likes are given and posts are shared. Fairy Fame (Gemma Wardle) wagers one final bet against Demon Queen (Rebecca Parker) that she cannot corrupt the final, non-vain and vapid Hackneywood resident, Mother Goose. If our baddie wins then all of Hackneywood will be turned into social media zombies and banished to Dalston (what horrors!!).
This is pretty solid panto fare; there’s goodies and baddies, ‘it’s behind yous’ and plenty of haze and pyro to boot, which come together well for an easy two and a half hours of silly fun. It’s good to see a strong ensemble and supporting cast too. Jack (Ope Sowande) and Jill (Holly Mallet) are lively accompaniment in a story where all eyes are on the goose. Everyone has their own jokes and place in the story, in Will Brenton’s slightly tweaked, twisted and brought up-to-date script.
The Hackney Empire have assembled a fantastic team this year in the sight and sound department. We gaze upon a gorgeous take of old and new as Hackneywood is seen in a beautiful fish-eye tromp l’oeil, lit with excellent clarity and precision by David W Kidd. We’re treated to cross generational panto covers from ‘What Becomes of the Broken Hearted’ to Dua Lipa’s ‘Levitating’, but the real gems are the original songs from Steven Edis. Toe-tapping, all-the-way-home whistling is guaranteed with the charming Act II finale ‘We Have Reached Our Happy End’, ready for a reprise next year, I hope.
The Rowestopper himself is reliably fab throughout and is treated to some fantastic frocks from designer Cleo Pettitt. He’s got quite the pair of lungs on him and, bolstered by a sprightly band under direction of Renell Shaw, is given ample opportunity to bring the house down. The biggest dame in the game, has smashed it with a top notch Mother Goose.
Written by: Will Brenton
Directed by: Clive Rowe
Music by: Steven Edis
Costume design by: Cleo Pettitt
Musical Direction by: Renell Shaw
Lighting Design by: David W Kidd
Mother Goose plays at Hackney Empire until 31 December 2022. Further information and bookings here.