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Sunday, 22 January 2023

REVIEW: Mother Goose at the Duke of York's Theatre

This was my twenty-second pantomime of the 2022/23 season and you hope through the marathon set of visits to save the best to last. After six Jack and the Beanstalks, six Cinderellas, three Aladdins, two Goldilocks and three bears, a beauty and the beast, a sleeping beauty, and a Snow White, the second Mother Goose proved to be just that. What’s more, there are still ten venues to catch it again at until 16th April – so book now to see a real treat. 

Jonathan Harvey’s brilliant script does everything you want for a Pantomime, it makes sense of the Mother Goose Story, builds cleverly on the talents of the cast, and integrates the traditional Panto business into the tale so it makes a coherent whole. John Bishop tells the audience in his ten-minute warm-up before the curtain rises to forget what it's like outside and immerse themselves in the Panto experience and the whole cast works wonderfully together to make sure that happens.

Sunday, 4 December 2022

REVIEW: Mother Goose at the Hackney Empire

The wonderful Hackney Empire has just finished celebrating its 120th year (though it has existed as a TV studio and Bingo hall for some of that time) with Mother Goose, a title first staged at Theatre Royal Drury Lane by the great Dame Dan Leno in May 1902. It stars and is directed by the irreprehensible Clive Rowe returning to the venue for his fifteenth pantomime of the last 23 years of Hackney pantomimes. It’s a magical venue with its impressive gold and red airy auditorium and uninterrupted views of the stage (thanks to Matcham’s cantilevered balconies) and a perfect setting for introducing young local audiences to the joy of live theatre.

As well as free tickets for Housing Association communities, refugees and young carers, the venue has an impressive track record with its Creative Futures programme which celebrates its 20th year of encouraging and developing young people and providing a safe space to explore new opportunities with a reported 20,000 young lives affected over that time. What better way to tempt new young talent to explore live theatre than a traditional Christmas Pantomime.
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