Mother Goose UK tour reaches The Curve, Leicester
Ian McKellan and John Bishop spread their wings in this wacky panto
From the very start of Bishop’s opening spiel we’re introduced to the comedy mishaps to come. Written by Jonathan Harvey – who wasted no time slipping in a timely Gary Lineker joke – an abundance of double entendres, slapstick slips and trips, and enthused choreo flood the show, along with the classic audience interactions.
The tale takes the kind-hearted Goose’s as they, and their animal sanctuary, are threatened by ever-mounting bills from the energy company (the energy company?!), but are saved by a timely golden goose, Cilla Quack. The couple are tested by this rise to fame and fortune, aided by some mischievous fairies.
Ian McKellan as the leading lady is a change of pace from his Shakespeare and Lord of the Rings origins (and there’s no shying away from his acting background in the show with several meta nods to his past roles), but he owns it fabulously, clearly having a blast as Mother Goose.
John Bishop is almost exclusively himself, too many fourth wall breaks to fully immerse in his character Vic Goose, but his comedic credentials hold weight, dealing with some heckles with aplomb. It’s clear the two are having a ball and that joy spreads through the theatre.
The sepia toned Debenhams backdrop is a stark contrast to the positive loudness of the cast. Even if this production didn’t have the star power of McKellan and Bishop, it would be a solid show with the strength of the ensemble, directed by Cal McCrystal. Good fairy Encanta (Sharon Ballard) and bad fairy Maligna (Karen Mavundukure) are particular vocal powerhouses, along with Anna-Jane Casey’s standout solo moment as Cilla the goose that nobody could rain on.
Oscar Conlon-Morrey deserves commending for his commitment to the bit in his role as Jack, the Goose’s son.
With some madcap costumes – designed by Liz Ascroft- and audience acknowledgement, it almost has the delightful intimacy of a community performance, but one that splashed out on confetti cannons and sparklers.
Bishop may describe the show as addressing current political issues, but beyond a few digs at Boris among other politicians and a general cost of living crisis, there’s no deep political commentary; but then again that’s not what we’re really here for and this panto makes for a glorious few hours of escapism. It certainly lives up to the promise of bonkers fun.
Mother Goose is performing at the Curve until 19th March 2023. Get your tickets here, curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/mother-goose/