The MAD Company, Liphook

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Mother Goose


Review of Mother Goose
Received from NODA SE representative
Jane Turner 
February 2024

Mother Goose – The MAD Company

Date: 17th February 2024
Society: The MAD Company
Venue: The Millennium Centre, Liphook
Type of production: Pantomime
Director: Vanessa K Breach
Written by: Vanessa K Breach

Once again, MAD Company timed their production to coincide with Half Term.  It must be one of the last pantomimes of the season which makes it all the more enjoyable.  As the programme tells us, the Company was founded in 1991 by the then Methodist Church minister and a group of like-minded friends.  From those early beginnings performing an annual pantomime, it has expanded and now offers several more shows during the year.

Mother Goose doesn’t have a traditional story apart from Mother Goose herself and probably a Golden Egg so every production is different and the choice is huge.  Author and Director Vanessa Breach wrote the perfect script which included every pantomime reference, involving the audience at every possible moment and not allowing the pace or enthusiasm, from the cast or the spectators, to waver.  The imaginative names of some of the characters – the Jughandles and the Crates – were very clever.  There are two main locations for the story:  Tyrolina – clearly in the Austrian Tyrol! - and Fairyland. The large adult and junior choruses put their hearts and souls into performing – energetic, co-ordinated, slick, enthusiastic, tireless.  Even the smallest members of the junior chorus were involved up to the end.  The Principals were faultless and well cast. 

The same backdrop of mountains and pine forests served for both of the main scenes. Two enormous flats on either side of the stage reflected the Bad Fairy on one side, and the Good Fairy on the other.  They were very cleverly decorated with paper flowers and painted in colours matching their costumes.  The amount of detail which went into creating the props was admirable.  Hazel Simmons is a genius!  And it was such a clever idea handing out paper flowers on a stem, each one hand made by members of the company, to the audience at the Interval.  What commitment to make enough for the whole audience for every performance!

The singing was universally strong, including the soloists, and the recorded music was never overpowering. Familiar songs from the past and present (particularly nostalgic for me was I Love To Go A-Wandering!) were well chosen and the brief schuhlplatter number reminded us that we were in the Tyrol!  There was no escape for the audience who joined in enthusiastically, encouraged by the vigorous antics of Ronnie and Reggie Crate.  The dancing, movement and discipline of the choruses was impeccable – never a foot wrong and acted throughout.

How on earth does Mandy Coluccia provide such an enormous number of colourful costumes?  They were outstanding and must have been months in the making.  And what an ingenuous idea to have the junior chorus with similarly plaited hair which held them together as a team and was very neat.  Of course Mother Goose displayed a variety of outrageous outfits befitting a Dame, with wigs to match.  Her transformation after plunging into the Magic Fountain of Youth (indicated by a loud splash off-stage) was hilarious, a striking vision in pink and performing an uninhibited dance.  A highlight.

The two fairies set the scene, Nightshade the baddie (Tatum Shields) and Dayglow the goodie (Olivia Tress) vying with each other to prove their magic powers with Dayglow struggling with her wand and not quite up to scratch.  They always emerged from the same side of the stage, cleverly matching the colours on the two tall flats on either side – purple, black and sinister for Nightshade and bright, cheerful and pink for Dayglow.  Then we were straight into a lively introduction by both choruses, adult and junior, who kept the pace going right up to the end.

The main characters, without exception, were faultless and it’s impossible to single out any one of them.  What a strong team.  Each of them stamped their individual mark on their character and they never faltered.  The fairies were perfect contrasts, Nightshade the Baddie, sophisticated and bossy with wonderful make-up, and Dayglow the Goodie, young and innocent.  Mother Goose (Mick Selley), loveable and popular, always in a bit of a flap. Heidi (Hannah Titchard) and Pieter (Matilda West), the equivalent of a Princess and Prince with Pieter putting in an occasional thigh-slap, were well suited and convincing.  The two evil characters, brother and sister Jasper (Tony Robinson) and Juniper Jughandle (Kim Coombes) were suitably menacing in extravagant black costumes.  The interaction between Jasper and Mother Goose was very amusing.  And the pair of crooks Ronnie (Mandy Coluccia) and Reggie Crate (Denis Titchard) provided the comedy element, tirelessly dashing about, on the stage and through the audience, vigorously organising and involving the audience participation.  What stamina!  Their energy was unbounded.  Gertie Goose (Lucy Coluccia) was very endearing, waddling about and not showing any distress from producing ever larger golden eggs.  The lovely Fairy Queen (Merissa Stoyles) and her Page (Jemima Simpson) played an important part during their brief appearance.  The dance of her little swans was enchanting and flawlessly executed for such a young group.

It was lovely to see the majority of the cast in the lobby at the end to engage with the audience.  Once again my little grandson was thrilled to see his favourite characters in person – it made them all the more real!

MAD are lucky to have a core of faithful and talented people - performers and supporting team - from which to choose.  One thing you can be sure of with MAD’s pantomimes is that the script is for everyone, young and old, with no hidden surprises or dodgy jokes!  This was a brilliant show and I feel my report doesn’t do it justice.  There aren’t enough superlatives to describe it.   Congratulations Vanessa Breach on another triumph and well done to the whole company and support team for a wonderfully entertaining show.