Mother Goose Cracks One Out is the first Above The Stag panto in their much larger new home on the Albert Embankment and the team have taken full advantage of this, producing their most polished and impressive panto to date.
Mother Goose is perhaps the least well known of the ‘classic’ panto stories and here the wafer thin plot of the original has been beefed up considerably in a sparking script by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper. Mother Goose and her gay son Tommy run a beauty Salon in the ‘generic northern town’ of Rugburn where they dream of organising the town’s first Pride. At the start of the show we meet good fairy Dandelion and bad fairy Mephista both played with proper panto gusto by Scott Dale and Briony Rawle. The story is woven around a bet by the two fairies that the kind, but poor Mother Goose can’t be corrupted and tuned nasty, even when she is given wealth and beauty. We also meet Squire Amos who’s in denial about his outrageously camp son Chester, played with energy by Christian Andrews, who is also Tommy’s boyfriend. There’s also the lesbian Mayor and a feisty Scottish goose, played by Laura Blair who makes some great comedy out of the physicality of her costume.
Special mention must be made to Liam Woodlands-Mooney who’s excellent as Tommy, but the stand out performance is from Matthew Baldwin in the title role. Mathew resists the temptation to go totally over the top and instead we get a masterclass in gentle underplayed humour that is at the heart of this impressive show. The show is punctuated by a set of excellent original songs and although all the panto cliches are here, they are trimmed right back this year and don’t overpower the show. Director Andrew Becket has also made great use of the bigger space with some genuinely impressive sets, the opening of the second half is particularly effective, but no spoilers.
In the world of adult pantos this is the show to beat this year, laugh out loud funny, rude and saucy but never crude, it’s a total joy to behold.