There is a goose on the loose at Hackney Empire this Christmas, as the theatre kicks off the pantomime season with all the fun and frolics you would expect in the colourful Mother Goose. But all is not well in this magical show and a fight between two powerful and very different sisters is brewing.
In the magical town of Hackneytopia, where nursery rhyme characters live happily among each other, there dwells the kindest, warmest person in all the land, Mother Goose. Played by Hackney Empire’s legendary pantomime dame Clive Rowe, Mother Goose is a larger than life force of nature with a saucy sense of humour and an impressive collection of incredible dresses to match her bubbly personality.
One day, two magical siblings decide to test who is the most powerful, using Mother Goose’s kindness as the test. Soulful songstress Charity (Sharon D Clarke) is good and loving, but Vanity (Susie McKenna) prefers to use her powers for evil and wreak havoc in Hackneytopia. Charity, desperate to save Mother Goose from surrendering her soul forever to the cruel Vanity, bestows upon her a precious and valuable gift, Princess Pricilla, a golden-egg laying goose.
With the arrival of the beautiful Priscilla, Mother Goose’s life is turned upside down and her selflessness and true character are tested when Vanity offers her the one thing she thinks she wants most, beauty and youth.
Luckily Mother Goose is not alone in her plight and there are plenty of familiar characters to boo, hiss and cheer along with. Silly Billy, her sweet but rather simple son, is given the chance to win the love of his best friend Jill –who is engaged to the handsome and very vain Prince Jack after taking a tumble with him down a hill – and become a hero, saving his Mother and friends from the evil Vanity with the help of a very glittery sword. There is evil Baron Bonkas who unwittingly plays the clown, and his niece Frightening Freda, a little diva whose lingo is lost on anyone over the age of 15.
With pastel-coloured sets sprinkled with glitter, and bright, elaborate costumes, the stage looks like it has stepped out of the pages of a children’s storybook. Surprises, comedy, romance and explosions keep the audience on their toes, as the cast sing and dance their way through magical East London places like Dalstonia and Vicky Parkier, before finally finding themselves in the enchanted forest where skeletons and a vast ogre live.
With plenty of audience participation, amusing references to the past year and songs that the whole family will know and can sing-a-long to, Mother Goose is perfect festive, family fun.