Mother Goose at Salisbury Playhouse

Mother Goose - Salisbury Playhouse - 2 December 2014  Written by Andrew Pollard Directed by Joyce Branagh Designed by Keith Orton Lit by Peter Hunter  Mother Goose - Kieran Buckeridge Squire Dillydally - Howard Coggins Milly Dillydally - Lucy Faint PricilWHEN it comes to writing pantomime, Andrew Pollard and Kieran Buckeridge are something of a dream team.

Andrew has now written fresh scripts for more than a dozen shows and played dame in most of them. The multi-talented Kieran composes the music, writes the lyrics (with Andrew) and plays dame too, all fitted in round his “day job” as composer in residence at Bristol and his further studies in music at Bristol University.

There’s no time for taking breath during the marvelously inventive Mother Goose that the pair has produced for Salisbury Playhouse this Christmas.

panto-salsgoose3And it gives the gangly, thoughtfully hilarious Kieran a chance to play the role that is the pinnacle of pantomime dames – the kind old woman whose head is turned by promises of youth and beauty.

It is generally agreed that Mother Goose first appeared around 1695 in a collection by the French Charles Perrault. More than 300 years on, in a society where superficial judgement and an obsession with “beauty” is rife, its message is as important as ever. And this Mother Goose opened on the day when a report about “social media” and personal isolation was published … how apt!

But the Salisbury Mother Goose, on until 10th January, is nothing about doom and gloom, unless you count the black heart of the baddie, Demonica Baddegg.

It’s a traditional pantomime performed by an energetic team of singing, dancing, adlibbing actors, and their enjoyment is immediately infectious. Everyone in the audience was loving it, even the unfortunate James, singled out by Mother Goose for special attention during the evening.panto-salsgoose

Bristol’s Howard Coggins was a Squire under a spell – snap your fingers and he’s nasty, snap again and he’s a cuddly, loveable buffer with a predilection for rapping.

Robert Rees is cute and adorable as Billy Goose, with Lucy Faint as his down-to-earth and determined sweetheart.

Priscilla is a gorgeous goose, and a neat dancer to boot. And Johanne Murdock and Ella Vale are nicely contrasted as the daffy Devonian Fairy and the hissable Demonica.

Mother Goose, founder of a refuge for sick and abandoned birds, too poor to buy birdseed but beloved of all, is the star of this show, and Keiran Buckeridge is, once again, terrific – a firm favourite with the Salisbury audience.

Six youngsters from Salisbury alternate as the children and villagers, and director Joyce Branagh, with choreographer Maggie Rawlinson, have created a show for all ages on Keith Orton’s colourful set.

For panto historians, this production also includes two fresh and inventive re-workings of classic routines that will be seen again and again in the coming years.

There are no “reality stars” or other celebs (vips, as Mother Goose calls them) on the Playhouse stage, but for a smashing show this Christmas, you don’t need to go further than Salisbury.


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