Mother Goose, Hackney Empire

December 14, 2008

 

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Something is rotten in the land of Hackneytopia. Mother Goose has acquired a goose that lays golden eggs but the riches have gone to her head, and wicked witch Vanity threatens evil and disaster to all who cross her path. 

Hackney Empire has pulled out all the stops for its 10th anniversary self-produced panto, as usual written and directed by Susie McKenna, who also plays wicked witch Vanity, with a stunning staging and terrific cast. Sharon D Clarke is transfixing as white witch Charity, a purple-wigged disco diva whose rich voice is truly spine-tingling. Clive Rowe uses his booming voice and beaming, cherubic face to create a divine dame Mother Goose with an endearing softness. And when the two sing together, well, you just don’t want it to stop.

The supporting cast work overtime to electrify the stage at all times. A wonderfully expressive goose with moving eyelids, made by puppeteer Scott Brooker, threatens to steal the show. There are puppets that swoop across the audience, body-popping skeletons and the cutest baby bear you ever did see. Warm-hearted and joyful, this show is a riot from start to finish. 

This piece first appeared in The Observer Review.

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