The pantomime season traditionally draws to an end as January closes. Mulberry Players squeezed their Mother Goose run in with hours to spare in this amateur, village hall production.
Pantomime is unique to Great Britain and performs a number of vital functions. Firstly it cheers us up in deepest winter, secondly it embraces young children providing for many their first introduction to theatre, and thirdly, particularly at this level, it provides communities with an opportunity to come together as performers, production helpers and audience.
David Maun’s script is traditional, and family friendly. Visually, money had clearly been spent on the costumes which were colourful and convincing, crucially Priscilla the Goose itself was large and impressive, Angie Wiggins did a sterling job manoeuvring the frame around stage without hitting anyone or anything, or falling over. A number of performers caught the eye. Ryan Wiggins as Billy Goose was energetic, lively and built up a genuine rapport with the audience as they were asked to guard hs goldfish. As nasty Squire of Sweet Content, Adrian Wiggins pretty much stole the show, horrible, unapologetic, and scheming throughout.
Gemma Greenbank’s Fairy Paxo was a delight, delivering her soliloquies with rhyme and a twinkle in her eye, Dave Spivey and Tracey Chidlow entertained as comedy duo Sam and Ella, with not very bright Ella coming out on top. The part of Dame is not an easy one to play. Do you camp it up like mad for laughs, or play it straight, and let the situations do the work for you? Kevin Chidlow as Mother Goose opted for the latter option, but was a calm and confident figure in leading the narrative, a conventional morality tale that vanity is bad, and friends and family are good.
I should make special mention of the children’s chorus who were a vital ingredient in the show, keen, enthusiastic, demonstrative and loud, they often outshone their seniors in the singing volume stakes too. Music was supplied by Kathryn Bradley on keyboards whom I suspect had much to do with the success of the junior chorus.
This show marks the 21st anniversary of Mulberry Theatre Company’s productions and the smiles on the faces of the audience, particularly during the audience sing a long, and with the children crammed on stage, were a pleasure for the sold out afternoon house. My only minor quibbles were that the first half at sixty five minutes was a shade long , and that Richard Howe, as the Demon King, should have been cut some slack to ad lib with the audience to enhance his baddie persona.
Sadly the run has now finished, but future production details can be found on their website:http://www.mulberrytheatre.co.uk/