There’s always something special about the Marlowe Theatre pantomime.
Its Christmas shows hit a new level when the theatre reopened in 2011, and while every year is very good, for my money the most enjoyable so far was the first in the new theatre. Cinderella.
This year’s show, Mother Goose, tops Cinderella.
Mother Goose isn’t more enjoyable because of the staging, or because the songs are better. It’s because the quality of scripting and comedic acting blow away everything that has come before it.
Here at The Void we’re big fans of Marlowe regulars Lloyd Hollett and Ben Roddy, whose comedic performances are probably now the biggest draw for audience members.
This year, they met their equal in Marc Pickering.
Best known to us for playing a younger version of Steve Buscemi’s Nucky in Boardwalk Empire, he is the best panto baddie I have seen in a very, very long time.
There are different categories of panto baddie: there’s the camp baddie, the faux-Shakespearean baddie, the gruff never-done-panto-before soapstar baddie…. Mother Goose has the first baddie inspired by Alan Partridge.
If that sounds preposterous, it is. But it also works. And it’s very, very funny.
It’s not a visual thing, as you can see from the image below, but verbally… cashback.
It’s really something when children say their favourite character was the bad guy.
On that note, a warning to parents of children with particular sensitivities: there is one very loud bang from a confetti cannon that scared a few little ones on the night we saw the show. That’s followed by a mass super soaker scene which will either delight kids or upset them, depending on their tolerance for being splashed.
Mother Goose is an anniversary show for two Marlowe lynchpins: Ben Roddy celebrates his 10th year at the theatre, while musical director Chris Wong marks 25 years. As ever, the music is excellent, never drowning-out performers and the Beatles medley that weaves its way through the show is a joy.
It’s a testament to the show that, since watching it, we haven’t stopped talking about it. Here’s hoping Jack and the Beanstalk next year can maintain this fantastically high standard.
Mother Goose runs until January 12