Mother Goose at Wilton’s Music HallCultureTheatre
Mayhem, madness and merry-making, both scripted and un-scripted, abound in Mother Goose. The second pantomime to ever grace the stage of Wilton’s Music Hall brims with everything such a show should offer: singing, dancing, slap-stick, puns (so many egg puns), and the odd well-observed quip about the current times and climes. Based on the tale dating back to 1902, Mother Goose is a warm-hearted but poor old lady who is sent a golden egg-laying goose by Virtue (Julia Sutton), her fairy godmother. When the goose starts laying, fortune is hers and, naturally, it doesn’t take long for Vanity (Gareth Davies), sporting purple velour trousers and a gold chain necklace, to try and lead the good old woman to the dark side. Her family and friends must come together to remind her of what’s really important in life. Do they succeed? Well, it’s panto, what do you think?
Roy Hudd, also the writer, is wonderful as the Dame, Mother Goose; with his voice as strong as his comic timing and ability to make his fellow actors corpse around him, he anchors the show and adds pizzazz when certain scripted jokes fall flat. The success of any pantomime is dependent on it not taking itself too seriously, and Mother Goose certainly does not. Some of the most hilarious moments in the two hours are when forgotten lines or misplaced wigs inspire some self-aware improvisation, in one moment provoking Hudd to turn to the audience saying, “You won’t get this at the Palladium”. Too right, though whether the funniest moments of a pantomime should be left to improvisation on the night remains to be seen.
Gareth Davies as Vanity is very good, despite one small child shouting at him to get off the stage within two minutes of his entrance, and he has truly mastered the art of playing the sleazy comic villain. The ensemble as a whole are also a joy to watch, bringing a technical skill and talent with their singing and dancing, which counterbalances the delightful mayhem of the dialogue exchanges.
Mother Goose is a traditional pantomime performed in one of London’s oldest entertainment venues, and a world away from the Disney theatre adaptations that dominate at this time of year. It’s a bit all over the place, but audiences would be hard pressed to leave the music hall without a smile on their faces, be it in bemusement, Christmas cheer, or a bit of both.
Mother Goose is at Wilton’s Music Hall from 2nd until 31st December 2016, for further information or to book visit here.