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Mother Goose, New Theatre Oxford

By Carys Hoggan

On Tuesday evening, the New Theatre in Oxford hosted That Oxford Girl for a spectacular performance of Mother Goose, a pantomime touring around the UK featuring Ian McKellen and John Bishop.

Having first seen that a pantomime was coming to Oxford on tour in March, I have to admit I was sceptical. Surely you couldn’t watch a pantomime outside of the Christmas season? Turns out, I was wrong or, to excuse a pantomime pun, “Oh yes you can!”.

I had no knowledge of the plot of the show beforehand, nor had I read anything about it - the only thing I knew was that Ian McKellen and John Bishop were in it. Despite my initial scepticism, I have to admit that the show did not disappoint. Mother Goose is a perfect combination of impeccable comedic timing, amazing costumes and a fun-packed, energetic performance which will no doubt have you engaged from beginning to end. And if that doesn’t completely convince you, you may have the opportunity to see Ian McKellen perform some Shakespeare (which, despite long having been a wish of mine, I never imagined it being while he was dressed as a pantomime dame!).

The plot centres around the Goose family, who are struggling financially to keep running their animal sanctuary. Fortune strikes thanks to the competition of some fairies, who send a goose their way who happens to lay golden eggs, laying odds as to whether the change of circumstance will corrupt the family. With a sudden increase in fortune, all seems to be going well for the Gooses until trouble starts brewing when some characters start to prioritise themselves and their desires over their friendships.

As you journey through the play, you are treated to Bishop’s masterful comedic timing, McKellen as you’re probably never seen him before, fairies, and an incredible ensemble of animals. Nearing the end of term, this show is an incredible opportunity to forget essays for a bit and witness the joys of pantomime again. It’s a true joy of a production, allowing you to forget the world for a few hours to be once again sucked into “pantoland”. If it’s true as they say that laughter is the best medicine, then this play has healing qualities and is a perfect end to the term.

The production is on tour until 16th April so make sure to get tickets!


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