Millfield Theatre, Enfield
It has been two hundred years since the celebrated production of Mother Goose starring Dan Leno and Herbert Campbell graced the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. That production has gone down in the history books as the first to introduce the beautification scene, which today lives on the Millfield Theatre’s 25th pantomime.
Although celebrating 25 years of panto, 2012 is the first time the Millfield Theatre has produced Mother Goose. With the part of Mother Goose often referred to as the Hamlet of Dame roles, Mother Goose requires a strong Dame to drive the narrative, which revolves around a golden egg-laying goose who changes the poor Widow’s fortune.
When blessed with gold galore, Mother Goose becomes selfish and self-conscious and is tricked by the Demon King into parting with her beloved Priscilla the Goose in return for a trip to the Pool of Beauty. When she realises the error of her ways, she must venture to find Priscilla and rid the world of the dastardly Demon to ensure that goodness prevails.
Having spent four seasons as Camberley’s resident damsel in a dress, Mark Slowey makes the move to the Millfield to play the mother of all Dames. A natural upon the pantomime stage, he’s at home making both the children chuckle and the grannies guffaw and this year gets the opportunity to prove his pantomime pedigree, achieving a wonderful performance in the role on every panto Dame’s wish list.
Marc Day’s script ticks off almost all the necessary components to the story and chooses to dispense with Principal Boy Colin in favour of giving Comic Silly Billy the romance narrative. Structurally the piece is a little Act One heavy, with musical numbers helping to pad out the narrative. Act Two, on the other hand, is rather short in comparison; moving the Ghosts Gag to the second act would help even things out and much more time could be afforded to Mother Goose’s change in personality post-beautification.
Mother Goose’s realisation of her greed and selfishness comes about rather quickly and within a few minutes she has recounted her ways, ready to win back Priscilla. One of the strengths of this pantomime title is its strong moral stance, which is somewhat rushed in this production.
In her second season as designer, Sonoko Obuchi’s sets transport the audience to the magical world of Pantoland. Fun and funky, Obuchi’s designs conjure up village plazas, countryside roads, Demon lairs and even an enchanted pool complete with fully functioning fountains.
The transformation sequence is a highlight of the show, complete with Vegas-style showgirls strutting their stuff and the male ensemble providing their very own tribute to Tom Daley. Set to Sister Act’s ‘Fabulous Baby’, the stage is awash with sparkle and glamour whilst choreographer Emma Rogers contributes yet another enjoyable number to proceedings.
Rogers’s choreography is slick and sharp with Mother Goose’s ensemble of six one of the tightest around. Dancers Sophie Phillips, Erin Rogers, Hannah Veerapen, Ellis Harman, Kyle Seeley and Grant Thrush execute their moves with passion and precision and bring a great energy to the show.
Solid song choices and strong singers, especially Daniel Slade (Billy Goose) and Kayleigh Louise-Smith (Jill), help contribute to the electric atmosphere and with Alex Scott-Fairley as a delightfully dastardly Demon, the Millfield Theatre has provided yet another fun and festive treat for all the family.
Reviewer: Simon Sladen