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Review | Mother Goose | The Lowry | 05/04/2023

Gone are the days where pantos were reserved for the Christmas period, with this one now on its eleventh venue since last December. After a successful Christmas season at Duke Of York’s Theatre in London, Mother Goose embarked on a national tour and has arrived in Salford just in time for Easter! Would it be a ‘scrambled’ mess, or would it be truly ‘eggcelent’? I went to The Lowry (armed with even more egg puns) to find out.

Mother Goose tells the bonkers tale of Caroline (Ian McKellen) and Vic (John Bishop), who go from struggling to pay bills to having no more worries when their goose, the aptly named Cilla Quack (Anna-Jane Casey) lays golden eggs. As in these sorts of stories, this equilibrium is put to the test. Whilst not the most complex narrative, it doesn’t need or pretend to be. With the writing left in the capable hands of Jonathan Harvey, the script is littered with an abundance of topical and political jokes. It is perhaps though the hysterical adlibbing by the cast which makes this show so incredibly memorable.

Ian McKellen is no doubt the draw for many, and he most certainly didn’t disappoint in this role. The Salford crowd lapped up the wealth of nods to his illustrious career; from Lord of The Rings to Shakespeare. Whilst all of the jokes landed impeccably, more powerful was McKellen’s comedic facial impressions, which alone had the audience in stitches. It was quite something to witness the six-time Olivier Award winner as a pantomime dame and he did it to perfection (or should I say perf-egg-tion).

McKellen’s on stage Husband Vic was played flawlessly by Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop. From the moment he came on stage out of character at the start of the performance to set the scene and get the audience going, Bishop had the near 2,000 strong crowd in the palm of his hand. Even jokes that were admittedly being tried out for the first time had the audience in fits of laughter. The chemistry between Bishop, McKellen and the rest of the cast is undeniable. They perhaps had as much fun on stage as the audience members themselves.

They may have ‘poached’ some standard panto elements, but with the groundwork ‘laid’ they really made this show its own. From messy kitchen chaos to the typical call and responses of “HE’S BEHIND YOU”, this panto had everything you would expect and more. Even a joke at the expense of Corrie legend Bill Roache, who was in the audience that night!

Like many pantos it used popular songs that people know and love, closing proceedings with a ‘Sweet Caroline’ sing-a-long. The absolute standout however was Anna-Jane Casey’s stunning rendition of ‘Don't Rain On My Parade’ from Funny Girl, which could give current Broadway leading lady Lea Michele a run for her money. This wasn’t the only stagey reference of the evening, with musical theatre classic ‘One’ from a Chorus Line making an appearance as well as prisoner 24601 (bonus points for anyone getting this reference).

The costuming by Amanda Stoodley was superb, with each of Mother Goose’s outfits more fabulous than the last. Everything about this production is top tier, and has set the gold standard which all future pantomimes should now aim for. Although, it will take a lot to top seeing national treasure Sir Ian McKellen performing ‘I’m Too Sexy’ by Right Said Fred!

This is truly a show for all ages, and is the perfect tonic that we all need right now. For a 'crackin’ night (or afternoon) out for the whole family, get a ticket for this outrageously ‘quackers’ show this Easter at The Lowry!

See below for booking information:

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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