Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

A panto worth a gander

Mother Goose

Sutton Arts Theatre


MOTHER Goose as pantomime is now more than a hundred years old, plying a familiar story of good versus evil, and decency versus greed.

With Sutton Arts, the tale is in capable hands as a talented cast, complete with child performers, tackle a script by Peter Wilman.

A Saturday evening crowd was eager to be entertained and the Company was pleased to oblige.

Emily Armstrong and Dexter Whitehead are seasoned directors. For this show they not only co-directed, but also took principal roles, shouldering a demanding responsibility.

Central to the show was David Thane as Mother Goose who gave a performance which veered from Northern Dame to cabaret camp, the highlight of which was his duet with Squire Creep (Gary Pritchard), You’re My Chu-chi Face.

Jack (Phebe Jackson) and Jill (Kate Lowe) were endearing as star crossed lovers, Phoebe Hooper excelled as Princess of Light, taking full advantage of her rhyming couplets.

Her nemesis, the Prince of Darkness (Joseph Hicklin), scowled and threatened as all baddies must, in a role which was a shade underwritten.


Libby Allport had the best dress of the night as Queen of Frozonia, and opened the second half in some style with a confident vocal performance, and a pleasing frozen special effect.

Tom Brookes kept the music moving along nicely as musical director, although his awareness that he was always on screen seemed to vary from time to time!

Emily, as Black Country Doris Daydream, and Dexter, as Simple Simon, revelled in their respective roles as frustrated lovers and comedy duo, playing their parts with gusto and comedy. Emily’s accent was frighteningly authentic making mere Brummie seem positively refined.

The set piece ensemble scenes were well staged by co-choreographers Emma Allen and Julie Johnson, and the protégés of the latter from her school of dancing acquitted themselves admirably both in the chorus scenes and the ballet sequence.

The show was lavishly costumed, wardrobe mistresses Rosemary Richmond and Ann Morris will have been kept very busy side stage, not least for the eye pleasing walk down. John Islip and his team produced a functional main set which was skilfully augmented by projection backdrops and copious pyrotechnic entrances.

Highlights included the beast in the forest, abducting the cast one by one with the skill of a trained assassin, and the show-stopping moment when the cast flew over the audience in a hot air balloon! A special mention too for Gary Pritchard’s Squire Creep which Gary played with understated character providing a solid reliable counterpoint to the inevitable theatrical excess around him.

Joseph Flanagan as Priscilla, the goose that lays the golden eggs, may not have needed much time to learn his lines, but gave an enjoyable physical performance as the Goose-knapped goose. The first half sets the scene for the second half, which gathers pace nicely as the songs and special effects come thick and fast.

The howls of laughter and warnings from the children in the audience testify to its success as a family friendly, crowd pleasing production complete with slapstick, singalongs, audience participation and double entendres. To 20-12-14.

Gary Longden


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