Mother Goose review at Hackney Empire London
Billed as London’s number one pantomime, Hackney’s annual offering is certainly a show that the adults flock to.
It satirises the traditional pantomime, taking its finest elements and celebrating them while at the same time mocking the cheesier moments.
The storyline certainly isn’t the main focus of the show, with a cast of extremely strong characters led by Hackney’s well-established dame Clive Rowe as Mother Goose. An enthusiastic and assured performer, his larger than life persona matches his flamboyantly encased, rotund frame – or perhaps it’s all padding.
Another indicator that this pantomime isn’t necessarily aimed at kids is the kinky chorus of dancing girls. Goldilocks (Kate Abercrombie) – or Loxie as Silly Billy calls her – looks shapely in her thigh-skimming mini dress while the seductive Little Red Riding Hood (Arielle Campbell) even has a red garter to match her outfit.
Also Matt Dempsey’s camp Prince Jack is rather like a Blackadder portrayal of a dashing hero – arrogant, blusteringly ignorant and, luckily, absolutely hilarious.
Kat B’s Silly Billy is contemporary and likeable, contrasting nicely with Abigail Rosser’s fairytale Princess Jill, who is dainty and delightful, yet with a surprisingly powerful singing voice.
However, the real anchor of the production – apart from skilful dancer Alix Ross as Priscilla the goose – is Sharon D Clarke as good witch Charity. The Holby City actress has a splendidly soulful voice and steals the diva crown, even from Dame Rowe.
The first half could do with being 15 minutes shorter, but other than that it is a golden example of what a pantomime should be – witty, well cast and containing frequent nods to the locality, which in this instance is the magical Hackneytopia.
Hackney Empire, London, November 29-January 10
- Susie McKenna
- Hackney Empire
- Cast includes
- Clive Rowe, Sharon D Clarke, Kat B, Matt Dempsey, Tameka Empson, Alix Ross, Abigail Rosser, Tony Whittle
- Running time
- 2hrs 40mins
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