Writer: Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper
Composer: Jon Bradfield
Director: Andrew Beckett
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
Despite the fun and jokes, pantomime is a serious business now. With so many pantos at this time of year, the market is competitive, and so to be successful the production must stand out from the others. This year’s offering from the Above the Stag Theatre has a USP; it is an adult pantomime and so the actors can dispense with double entendres when singles will do.
Mother Goose Cracks One Outis the tenth pantomime that Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper have written for London’s only fulltime LGBTQ+ theatre. As the title suggests, it’s filthy, sweary and rude, but as the late Kenny Everett would have said, it’s all done in the best possible taste. ‘Gay Tommy’ works with his mum, Mother Goose, in her beauty salon, but it’s not making any money as they keep giving away haircuts for free. (Cue, audience participation as someone is invited on stage to endure the fury of Mother Goose’s snipping scissors.) The landlord wants his rent, and is threatening to kick them out; and the situation is even trickier when we find out that Tommy’s boyfriend, Chester, is the landlord’s son.
But one day, a goose comes to the salon and lays a golden egg, and it would seem that Mother Goose’s money problems have come to an end. However, money also brings responsibility. Throw in a gay fairy and a lesbian witch and we have the perfect ingredients for one of the smuttiest pantomimes you’re likely to see this year. Mother Goose, played with ease by Matthew Baldwin, has the dirtiest mouth, and, also, the prettiest dresses, which receive their own applause. Baldwin is right at home on the stage, and his slightly weary attitude works dividends here. He’s a natural dame.
Mother Goose’s son, Tommy, is played by Liam Woodlands-Mooney and is the perfect hero. He’s a little simple, but that makes us root for him more, and Woodlands-Mooney ably manages his role as the eye-candy of the production, too, especially when Mother Goose tries out her new dimmer switch as Tommy is changing his outfit. If Tommy brings sex appeal, then Priscilla the goose, played by Laura Blair, brings some Glaswegian sass to the town of Rugburn. Potty-mouthed, and put-upon, Blair is hilarious here, sometimes having only to move the goose’s head attached to her own head to get the laughs.
The other roles are just as comic, with Christian Andrews bringing some high camp to his closeted Chester, and Briony Rawle providing some very bawdy lesbian asides in her role as Mephista the witch. David Shields’ set design is fluid, and looks, surprisingly for a pantomime, expensive and gives the cast plenty of room to dance to the few songs penned by Jon Bradfield. One song, a duet by Tommy and Chester about their lonely nights, is the highlight of the evening and brings the house down.
Admittedly, the show could be a little shorter chiefly in the first half where some scenes tend to drag, but the second half comes with an upsurge in energy and with some more audience participation. This pantomime is for big kids, and is saucy and irreverent. You don’t have to be gay to enjoy it, but it would help. Definitely not family-friendly, Mother Goose Cracks One Outis, instead, fun for the whole LGBTQ+ family!
Runs until 12 January 2019 | Image: Contributed