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Oxford Playhouse - Mother Goose

2nd December 2011 to 15th January 2012.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

It's just too loosey-Goosey

Mother Goose, at the Oxford Playhouse, until January 15

This year's Oxford Playhouse pantomime, Mother Goose, is written and directed by Peter Duncan of Blue Peter fame. However, there is a lack of narrative drive - perhaps because the original story is under-written.

The plot, if there is one, is minimal. A foolish woman, Mother Goose (Chris Larner) has a goose that lays golden eggs, and trades the goose to a witch in return for a beauty treatment. There are a couple of jolly contemporary pop songs. Accents and idioms from Essex and Newcastle are, unfortunately, jokes. The most entertaining moment happened accidentally during a malfunction of Mother Goose's mechanical crying device, forcing Larner to ad-lib. His requests to the audience to use its collective imagination to finish the scene were funny.

Grace writes: the story was very basic but this didn't matter because all the scenes in the pantomime were good. During the panto I went through all the emotions. We met the good fairy and the bad witch before the panto started.

I started off being very excited about the opening scene – a fair. It was very colourful and exciting with lots of singing and dancing. There was a frightening scene when Mother Goose was made beautiful with scary dancers.

Mother Goose, a man really, was on the stage a lot – a mad and funny character that you could easily trick. This is what the wicked witch (Ashleigh Gray) did to get his/her Goose Eldorada (Will Hawksworth). The Goose didn't know if it was a girl or boy – a bit like its mother. But it was a girl because it laid some gold eggs – and a real egg that hatched into a gosling.

It was a funny panto, but I didn't laugh out loud. Mother Goose had a son, Silly Billy (Paul Charlton), who was very good at playing the fool. There's a daughter as well called Jilly (Nicola Stuart-Hill). She was a tomboy (like her mother) until she fell in love with the duke's son (Gary Albert Hughes).

The best bits in the panto were when all the cast on the stage sang and danced together.


There are reviews in The Oxford Times ("a pantomime whose exuberance and professionalism is just so classy"), The Stage ("Mother Goose has its moments, then, but short of those infamous eggs, it isn’t really panto gold"), WhatsOnStage ("the musical interludes were a real highspot this year - with the best choreography I've seen so far" - four stars), The Public Reviews ("the set is colourful and charming and the performances by all the cast are for the most part confident" - four stars), the British Theatre Guide ("a charming Mother Goose full of heart... however, due to its unnecessary stuffing this pantomime goose is not as golden as it could be"), Guide2Oxford ("family fun from start to finish along with having something for everyone throughout the show… simply a pantomime classic at its best!") and the Oxford Mail ("it’s nothing short of that Christmas present you always wanted but never really believed you’d get... production-wise, it is simply breathtaking").

Previous productions

Cinderella, 3rd December 2010 to 16th January 2011
Jack and the Beanstalk, 4th December 2009 to 17th January 2010. See the review in the Archive.
Sleeping Beauty, 5th December 2008 to 18th January 2009. See the review in the Archive.
Aladdin, 30th November 2007 to 13th January 2008. See the review in the Archive.
Dick Whittington, 1st December 2006 to 14th January 2007. See the review in the Archive.
Cinderella, December 2005. See the review in the Archive.
Guys and Dolls, by Oxford Operatic Society, 21st to 26th November 2005. See the review in the Archive.
Peter Pan, December 2004. See the review in the Archive.

For more details

see the Playhouse's web site at