Hudd in the title role is the poor but kindly villager served with all the trimmings: soppy son, adoring younger friends who break into a song and dance at the drop of an egg, villainous landlord, cruel tempter and redemptive giant goose, solving the debts with her golden eggs.
Every convention is here, and the cast gives it all 110 per cent: if I were the little girl in the front row who shouted "Get off the stage" within moments of blingy wide-boy baddie Gareth Davies's first entrance, I would also have gone home dreaming of being a dancer like the three beautiful, twirling village maidens when I grew up. (I'm not sure about the boys' bondage kit in a hellish fantasy scene, however: how do you explain that to an eight-year-old?)
Speeding through a medley of Christmas music at the outset, presided over by Christmas Fairy Julia Sutton (by my calculations, she and Hudd combined have trod the boards, sometimes together, for well over a century), of all the Christmas pantos in London this year, I'd be amazed if many came with bigger smiles than Mother Goose, thanks to the hardworking chorus of five dancers and five infants. Steven Hardcastle also choreographs, with imaginative use of Wilton's intimate stage, and musical director Steven Geraghty conjures an entire orchestra out of his keyboard, with the help of quickfire percussionist Tom Boyce.
If you are really lucky, the cast will forget their lines and improvise, and then they are really in their element. You can sing "Oh yes, she should", "Oh no, she shouldn't" to the tune of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", enjoy the handful of topical gags at the expense of Trump, Brexit and The Daily Express, titter at the human mirror - and yes, maybe regret that there is no wallpapering or kitchen scene, and that Mother Goose, albeit cured of her moment of vanity, does not get a glamorous frock for the grand finale walkdown. But at the end of a grim year, it's a rare treat to find yourself grinning from ear to ear for two hours.
This a fine pantomime in the perfect venue. And not at all camp. OH YES IT IS!!
|What||Mother Goose Pantomime review, Wilton's Music Hall|
|Where||Wilton's Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, London, E1 8JB | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Tower Hill (underground)|
02 Dec 16 – 31 Dec 16, Matinées at 2pm
|Price||£17.50 - £30|
|Website||Click here to find out more|