The story of Mother Goose is possibly the oldest story to be turned into a pantomime. The story dates back to an ancient Greek legend about a goose that laid golden eggs. It is also one of the earliest pantomimes to be seen in Great Britain, nearly two hundred years ago. So no pressure there then for the Turnpike Community Theatre to do justice to such a rich theatrical heritage! However, as always, the Community Theatre members did not disappoint! As staple to your Christmas diet as pigs in blankets, no Christmas is quite complete without a trip to the panto. It was “egg-straordinary” entertainment for the festive season. This year’s pantomime featured its usual abundance of comedy, fabulous sets, outrageous costumes…together with a few surprises! Colourful and lively, and packed with corny gags, the Turnpike Community Theatre’s production of Mother Goose was cracking fun for all the family – the production truly had the “eggs-factor”!!
Director Elizabeth Radley made some “egg-citing” casting choices leading to a real “egg-stravaganza” of a pantomime. The storyline of Mother Goose is not the strongest of all the pantomimes, but Ms Radley’s direction ensured that there were no dull patches, and the audience's attention was retained throughout. Elizabeth Radley, ably assisted by her producer, the talented Mr Neil Gredecki, ensured the production didn’t miss a step and packed the performance with all the pantomime prerequisites - a fairy godmother (Fairy Goosedown), an evil demon (Mephisto), a dame in drag (Mother Goose), the comedy duo (Nifty and Shifty), and plenty of songs and dance. The musical interludes were a real highspot this year – with some of the best choreography I've seen so far from the Turnpike; the actors delivered both traditional and modern songs with great gusto and evident enjoyment. Dame Mother Goose’s rendition of “It’s Raining Men” was upbeat, lively and quite hilarious! Top of my present wish list for Christmas 2013, is a light up, see through umbrella!
Featuring an appearance by James Massey as a very cute pantomime goose, as well as a rather special version of ‘Goose Busters’, this year’s pantomime by the Turnpike Community Theatre was as enjoyable and brash as ever. Never one to miss out on a good Westleigh related joke or a topical reference, local humour provided the basis for a lot of the jokes and “eggs-eptionally” bad puns abounded.
Richard Pilkington (Dame Mother Goose), once again showed himself to be a natural upon the pantomime stage, he was equally at home making both the children chuckle and the grannies guffaw and this year he again proved his pantomime pedigree, achieving a wonderful performance in the role on every panto Dame’s wish list. Mark Bassett was on devilish form, portraying a delightfully dastardly Demon – just the right blend of camp and irritating – he was the perfect villain we loved to hate (Mephisto). Laura Gredecki showed herself to have good comic timing as Silly Billy, the hapless, lovable fool to Richard Pilkington’s glorious pantomime dame.
Deborah Murphy and Sarah Fairclough, as Nifty and Shifty were a great double act and it was their ad-libs and interaction with the audience that drew some of the biggest laughs from the audience. Edna Bretherton as Fairy Goosedown was warm and charming with witty rhyming repartee.
The set was colourful and charming – well done to all the backstage crew - and the performances by all the cast were for the most part confident. At times Brittany Kearns as Jill was a little quiet vocally, however her performance was no less endearing for that.
Mother Goose pulled the worst and most cringe-worthy jokes out of the bag to ensure plenty of laughs. The quips and jokes were sometimes laugh out loud hilarious, more usually laugh out loud terrible, but that is all part of the fun of panto!
Fun, colourful and a little bit naughty, with enough to keep both the kids and adults amused, the Turnpike Community Theatre’s production was everything a good panto should be.
Well done, one and all!