Mother Goose


Cambridge Arts Theatre

MOTHER GOOSE at the Cambridge Arts Theatre


“this well-produced, entertaining and colourful show is perfect for anyone of any age to start engaging in live theatre”

Cambridge’s favourite dame (Matt Crosby) returns to the annual pantomime, directed by Michael Gattrell, for festive fun in an outlandish display of costumes with bad jokes, and adlibs. This year, as Gerty Goose, the Dame’s good-nature is tested with impossible-to-refuse temptations that ultimately lead to a decision that wealth and beauty do not bring happiness.

A revolving glitterball above the auditorium and flashing disco lights during the Overture set the scene (Lighting Designer Mike Robertson). Beautifully painted show cloths representing scenes of Cambridge (Set Designer Ian Westbrook) bring a familiarity to the story. Let’s not say ‘provincial’ because this production is of West End standard.

Two rivals in the battle of good over evil – Fairy Virtue (Charlotte Wakefield) and Demon Vanity (Pippa Duffy) – face off in rhyming couplets. This is all a bit static and serious and a missed opportunity for greater cringe-worthy rhyming, but Ms Wakefield raises the roof with her two solo numbers. Ms Duffy is quite a soft villain. Only minimal thunder rolls and lightening cracks at her entrances but this is no bad thing.

Alicia Belgarde as Jill Goose, the innocent girl-next-door and potential love interest, is a delight and Gemma Sutton, as principal boy Jack Purchase, beautifully spoken. Ms Sutton is just right in her thigh-slapping role, acing her solo song when it comes. Audiences will fall in love with this wonderful couple.

“Absolute highlight of the show is the ensemble”

Performance of the night – as chosen by the children brought on stage during the performance – is that of Steven Roberts as Sammy Goose. His energy, clowning and movement are all excellent, keeping the momentum between scenes. As an audience member, I found shouting “Hello, Sammy” on each entrance just fine, but the need for a regular “Sammy-Hug” is a bit icky. A running gag about a lost dog provides some good punning. Jokes about Cambridge go down particularly well. I’m not overly impressed by the repetition of business and product names which seem rather close to product placement.

Absolute highlight of the show is the ensemble (Dance Captain Sophie Karaolis). Their colourful and eye-catching costumes (Costume Designer Sue Simmerling), swirling petticoats, wide smiles and perfect moves (Choreographer Kevan Allen) are sheer joy. Life’s a Happy Song, their song and dance. Yes, it is.

The plot is pretty thin even by panto standards (Writer Al Lockhart-Morley) and the progress into the final scene isn’t really explained but it hardly matters. Some mention of the cost of living crisis is used as an early plot device but is quickly forgotten. A few topical and political jokes fall rather flat. The traditional messy slapstick scene is not as slick as it yet may become but it is funny enough and the youngsters love it. There’s no smut.

The producer states in his welcoming speech that pantomime is the “recruiting sergeant of the theatre” and with an audience of thousands to welcome through the doors this year, this well-produced, entertaining and colourful show is perfect for anyone of any age to start engaging in live theatre.

MOTHER GOOSE at the Cambridge Arts Theatre

Reviewed on 5th December 2023

by Phillip Money

Photography by Richard Hubert Smith



Previously reviewed at this venue:

Faith Healer | ★★★ | October 2023
A Voyage Around My Father | ★★★ | October 2023
Frankenstein | ★★★★ | October 2023
The Shawshank Redemption | ★★★ | March 2023
The Homecoming | ★★★★★ | April 2022
Animal Farm | ★★★★ | February 2022
Aladdin | ★★★★ | December 2021
The Good Life | ★★ | November 2021

Mother Goose

Mother Goose

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