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

These shoes were made for laughter

Now listen up: Molly Coddle (Richard Ham) holds the company's attention in Goody Two Shoes. 

Goody Two Shoes

Highbury Theatre Centre, Sutton Coldfield


THE story of young Goody and her footwear has somehow never captured the imagination of the panto-going public. In fact, after presenting myself at pantomimes with surprising frequency every season for 26 years, I think this is the first time I have seen it. 

This, I now realise, is my loss – because in Paul Reakes's version we have a story that is happy and funny. And in this production – with which Tony Rogers completes his Highbury hat trick of pantomime direction – there is a lot of laughter to ease us through the pleasurably panicky moments when it seems that things are going wrong for our young heroine. 

It is a production that does not have a weak link and which showcases three particular talents, one of which is the delightful Jess Ingram, in the title role that she is sharing with Kirsten Farrell. She has poise and confidence, bringing authority to Goody without somehow leaving us with the feeling that this is an in-yer-face occasion. 

We also have Danni Bentley, the magically happy Elf Cobbler – a diminutive, squeaking sparkler with a captivating line in smiles. And we have Jamie Ingram, half-pint in stature but big in contribution – contribution in a pleasingly understated way as he gives us Teddy Coddle, the son of Richard Ham's ebullient Molly Coddle, a dame demonstrative in word and gesture in the best panto tradition.  


This is an earnest, po-faced Teddy, much given to confusing the clichés of the English language: Out of sight, out of the frying pan and Don't count your chickens before they cross the road, for instance. He's a Teddy who confesses that he is allergic to pain but whose mother slaps his head at every opportunity; a Teddy whose unassuming performance is  just lacking an extra bit of projection for the splendid lines he has been allotted. 

Oli Leonard offers sound suppport to Goody as our hero Simon; and Keith Hayes, as the evil and pneumatic Septica, makes much of the anguish of being trapped in high-heel shoes, though this does not in any way limit the volume of boos that come his way. Suzy Donnelly, the energetic and screeching Cissie, takes some of the pressure off him when she assumes ownership of the magic shoes and we decide that it is time to vent our righteous wrath on her. 

Charlotte Wetton and Karrise Willetts earn their many laughs as the pleasing partnership of Rolo and Polo, though the diction is not always good enough for the pace of their delivery. It is pleasing to see Reg Tolley, Highbury stalwart these many years, coming confidently to the role of Titus Tightwad. 

But I am still trying to work out why it was necessary for one of the youthful handful of Villagers to have been given a cotton frock to go with his beard. To 1.1.11.

John Slim 

Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate