WRITTEN by the doyen of pantomime playwrights, Alan P Frayn, Mother Goose is not performed as often as other favourites.
Yet despite the lack of familiar characters, the Haven Players’ production contained all the essential ingredients, goodies to cheer, baddies to boo, audience participation and a happy ending.
No matter that Mother Goose is set in Goosingham near Fairyland and in The Land of Discontent inhabited by goblins!
The story of the Goose family harassed by their landlord for overdue rent was narrated by Fairy Fortune (Michelle Moon) who appeared regularly waving her magic wand.
Mother Goose (Douglas Dalziel), rogue-ishly amusing in whichever drag outfit he appeared, daughter Jill (Natalie Beams) and son Silly Billy (Stephen Edwards), won over the audience with their charm and Christmas-cracker one-liners
Squire Moneybags (George Noble), and his gormless bailiffs Bill Bumpkin (Sue Beck), and Ben Bogtrotter (Sue Davies), provided the slapstick and Demon Discontent (Margot Miller), dressed in hellish-red, was authentically devilish.
To complete the motley crew, the Squire’s son, Colin (Annie Cowley), fell in love with Jill, and Priscilla The Goose (Pam Britton), all padded white feathers, wiggling rump and flapping arms, managed, as elegantly as possible, to lay golden eggs which saved the impoverished family from eviction.
With dance routines by effervescent choreographer Mo Munday; Geoff Baker’s lighting and sound, plus music directed by Michael Johnson - alas no live band - the success of this pantomime was due as much to their efforts, and those responsible for the array of colourful costumes and make-up, as to the cast who managed to seamlessly synchronise everything but without losing a sense of spontaneous fun.
Directed with panache by Carol Noble, also responsible for the imaginative set design, this was a quintessential seasonal panto.
Or, as Mother Goose might have remarked, an ‘egg-squisite egg-perience’!