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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Hexagon - Mother Goose

8th December 2004 to 3rd January 2005.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Musical mayhem

Mother Goose, at The Hexagon, Reading, until January 3

From the outset let’s be clear we’re not talking art here. We are talking pantomime in all its glory – loud and brash.

It is undoubtedly a great British institution and even people who wouldn’t think of going near a theatre can normally be swayed for this Christmas ritual. Certainly from the start, the children were hissing, booing and relaying all the pantomime cliché expected of them as if to the manor born.

Mother Goose is a simple tale of good and evil with Ida Down and her two sons, Chuckie and Tom at its centre.

When Ida’s chicken dies they buy her a new ‘chicken’, a Goose, named Priscilla. Angry Ida is soon placated when Priscilla starts laying Golden Eggs.

With such wealth it seems that everyone could live in harmony. Nevertheless they had not reckoned on the wrath of the Demon King who wants the Goose for himself…

For a pantomime to be true ‘panto’, there is one essential element you must have, the Pantomime Dame, who is inevitably stony broke and on the lookout for the next husband or the rent man to come knocking.

The world of panto would be a much less comic place to live in if she wasn’t there. Christopher Lillicrap as Ida ‘so big the Newbury Bypass couldn’t get round her’ plays the part with energy and enthusiasm. And if it didn’t work he only had himself to blame as he wrote the script as well.

Bonnie Langford, as one would expect, belts them out as Tom Down (the handsome one) and Richard Earl, plays the perfect fool, as Chuckie Down (the daft one).

In contrast, CBBC’s Mark Speight is the vindictive icy Demon King a far more satisfying part than Juliet Gough’s Fairy Feather.

All fine and dandy however there is only one way to judge the success of a pantomime and that’s by the reaction of the audience. Nothing else matters. You can have the finest script, the greatest names or world beating special effects but if you fail to grab the punters, you will inevitably fail.

Fortunately, The Proper Pantomime Company’s Mother Goose offers everything a child, and maybe a few adults, could want in a pantomime – music, mirth and mayhem.