Writer: Will Brenton
Director: Clive Rowe
Mother Goose is everything that a pantomime should be, it’s fun, silly and over the top, with panto royalty, Clive Rowe, in the starring role. The costumes by Cleo Pettitt are magnificently eye-catching, while Imagine Theatre’s set makes you feel like you’ve just stepped into a children’s storybook. Hackney Theatre have once again achieved panto perfection.
Hackneywood is a town full of harmony and happiness. Mother Goose (Clive Rowe) owns the local salon, gifting makeovers to those in need, and even though she’s strapped for cash and three years overdue on the rent, she hates the thought of charging others for her services. But the Demon Queen (Rebecca Parker) is desperate for a challenge, so manipulates her into swapping her heart of gold for an egg made of gold. Her newfound wealth clouds her charitable personality and gets her dreaming of youth and beauty, ready to give up anything to finally grasp what she’s always dreamt of. Something Demon Queen is more than happy to fulfil – at a price.
Writer Will Brenton manages to completely keep the essence of the classic children’s tale, while adding in a modern twist, by encouraging less time stuck on your phones and living life without the need for a hashtag or an Instagram post. Younger audience members love the slapstick and audience participation (oh yes, they did!) but cheeky innuendos are also subtly, albeit hilariously, included for the adults, with frequent comparisons to the off-stage villains that inhabit Downing Street. On top of this, Hackney Empire is celebrating their 120th birthday, which is brilliantly incorporated into Brenton’s storyline with a nod to the legendary talent that has graced the stage by hosting the Hackneywood awards show to celebrate the stars both present and past.
Clive Rowe is this performance’s very own golden egg – a rare gem of a director and performer who plays the pantomime Dame to perfection. Rowe has become a staple at the Hackney Empire, and for good reason; his personality is infectious, you can’t help but laugh along with his quick wit, not to mention the wonderful set of vocals on him. Kat B as Billy Goose is comedic brilliance, with excellent timing and easy chemistry with Rowe. Rebecca Parker is the show’s staple villain, the Demon Queen, encouraging boos and hisses every time she bursts onto the stage. Her theatrically exaggerated persona is perfect for a show baddie, as is Tony Marshall playing Squire Purchase, who although not quite a villain, is definitely not one of the good guys.
The entire cast and creative team deserve a glowing review filled with compliments, as they were all amazing. Hollie Dorman is the stand-out in the ensemble, playing a variety of characters, but most notably a fantastic zombie with wonderful energy. If one thing is clear – it’s obvious that the whole cast are genuinely having fun on stage and enjoying the show, which in turn encourages the feel-good atmosphere even further.
It’s well worth having a gander at this eggstravagantly eggcellent show before the end of its run at Hackney Empire, it’s a cracking production of pun-filled pantomime gold.
Runs until 31 December 2022