Well, Sir Ian McKellen and John Bishop are the double act that I didn’t know I needed in my life, but boy I absolutely did. Last night they bought their version of the classic panto Mother Goose to the Wolverhampton Grand, and literally bought the house down with the fabulous, hilarious show. Vying just on the right side of naughty, with double entendres a plenty, Mother Goose is a reminder of the true power of the classic panto as entertainment that delights the whole family. It is an absolute hoot and frankly unmissable.
Mother Goose is the sometimes forgotten classic panto, the story of the goose that laid the golden egg and how it changed the life of the humble and kindly Mother Goose. In this version, Caroline Goose and her devoted husband Vic run an animal sanctuary (in a former Debenhams store – a timely jibe at the current state of the High Street) and are super poor – flat broke in fact. When an injured goose falls from the sky, the gentle Mother Goose takes it in, only to find that this goose lays golden eggs, and is the answer to all the Goose’s problems as they can now pay their bills to Jill from the ‘energy company’ (another joke totally hitting the spot in 2023.) However, with their money problems solved, Mother Goose becomes fixated on becoming a star, and betrays the friendship with ‘Cilla Quack’ (the goose), in order to achieve her dreams. But dreams can become a lonely place without the people you love to share them. Can Caroline put everything right and get her loved ones back?
This is a wonderful classic style panto – no pyrotechnics, no 3d animation, just a great mix of songs and laughs held together by a fantastic cast. Sir Ian McKellen is on glorious top form, totally hamming up the script, delivering one liners with all the skill of a consummate performer, it is a joy to watch him enjoying it all so much. He is matched by John Bishop who is never less than hilarious, and often loses it on stage, giving in to the hilarity of the situation and totally taking the audience along with him. Oscar Conlon-Morrey is a real find as son Jack, absolutely great in terms of theatre presence, and totally stealing the show in the scene where he bakes a cake (‘use your head’ will never be the same again), and he has a lovely relationship with Simba Akande as his love interest Jill.
As the fairies, Sharon Ballard (Encanta) and Karen Mavundukure (Malgnia) have stunning powerhouse vocals that really deliver, whilst Anna-Jane Casey as Cilla is brilliant, particularly when she channels her inner Barbara Streisand with a knockout performance of ‘Don’t rain on my parade‘, another highlight in a show that has many. A shout out must also be given to Adam Brown as the very funny King of Gooseland, killing it with the line ‘you don’t get that from Christopher Biggins’ after Mother Goose gives a Shakespearean speech. Yes, it’s that kind of show and all the better for it.
Mother Goose is an absolute joy from start to finish, funny and warm, with plenty of topical asides that really pack a punch. This is a crowd pleaser from start to finish. Beg, steal and borrow a ticket, you do not want to miss this.
23 Feb–26 Feb 2023
Check availability of tickets here