A round-up of reviews for Hackney Empire’s annual pantomime Mother Goose, which opened this week in London.
The panto is playing at the Hackney Empire until 31 December 2022.
Mother Goose stars Olivier award-winner Clive Rowe in the title role of Mother Goose, appearing in his 15th pantomime at Hackney Empire.
The cast also includes Kat B (Jack and the Beanstalk and The Wiz, Hackney Empire) as Billy Goose, alongside Ruth Lynch (making her professional debut) as Priscilla the Goose, Holly Mallett (Andy and The Odd Socks, Glastonbury/UK Tour; Notflix: The Improvised Musical, Soho Theatre) as Jill Purchase, Tony Marshall (Casualty (1993 – 2021); Jitney, Old Vic/Leeds Playhouse) as Squire Purchase, Rebecca Parker (Cats, West End; Crazy For You, West End) as Demon Queen, Ope Sowande (Moulin Rouge, Piccadilly Theatre; The Lion King, International Tour) as Jack Goose, and Gemma Wardle (Les Miserables in Concert, Gielgud Theatre; Fame, Cambridge Theatre) as Fairy Fame.
The ensemble cast includes Hollie Dorman, Tom Kalek, Elliott Lee, Imogen Opie Marina Tavolieri, Adam Tench and Dawn Williams, with a young ensemble made up of Hackney Empire’s ADP Dancers and performers from Vestry School of Dance & Performing Arts.
The panto is directed by Clive Rowe, with the creative team including Will Brenton (Writer), Steven Edis (Original Songs), Cleo Pettitt (Costume Designer), Renell Shaw (Musical Director: Orchestrations and Arrangements), André Fabien Francis (Choreographer), David W Kidd (Lighting Designer) and Yvonne Gilbert (Sound Designer).
The Hackney Empire is currently celebrating its 120th birthday.
Mother Goose reviews
"A feather in Hackney Empire’s cap"
"Clive Rowe gives a masterly performance as he shapes the high jinks while wearing fabulous frocks in this infectiously funny panto"
"It’s worth flocking to this triumphant reprise of Mother Goose, which originated in this form in 1902 and was last performed at Hackney Empire in 2014."
"This is Rowe’s 15th panto at the Empire – he directs this one, too, marshalling a supporting cast of bouncy teens and tweens, and including a touching tribute to the venue’s 120-year history. His performance, somehow both brassy and delicate, shows why he is a master of the form; he guides and shapes the high jinks without upstaging his co-stars..."
"From a giant twerking fowl to jibes about Liz Truss, this Mother Goose delivers the panto goods"
"Hackney Empire's panto is traditionally one of London's finest. And this year's, both by and starring Clive Rowe, does not disappoint"
"Thankfully, directed by its star Clive Rowe (reputedly one of the greatest dames of all time and now in his 15th pantomime for Hackney Empire), his electric performance worth the price of admission alone, this show is a bumper cracker’s worth of Christmas cheer."
"Will Brenton’s script is brimming with extended skits punning the names of chocolate bars, cheesy dad jokes and political salvos about the current cost of living crisis."
"Panto’s last superstar Clive Rowe electrifies the Hackney Empire once again"
"Like the Rolling Stones, the Hackney Empire panto doesn’t have many new tricks these days. But the tricks it has are all still bloody spectacular, most notably pretty much every moment star-slash-director Clive Rowe is on stage. Sure, in the dame title role of ‘Mother Goose’, he reuses entire routines I’ve seen him do in previous pantos. But to return to my laboured simile, moaning that Rowe forces a bloke in the audience to repeatedly proclaim his love for him is like complaining the Stones always play ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’."
"Panto dame Clive Rowe holds court in Hackney"
"Is Clive Rowe the greatest pantomime dame of the century? Oh, he has had some rivals all right, and in the past few years the glitzier London Palladium pantos have stolen some of the limelight from once predominant Hackney. Yet here he is again as the good-hearted beautician turned gaudy golden egg tycoon Mother Goose. And there is nobody you would rather see in a succession of high-concept costumes; smilingly co-opting a “volunteer” from the crowd; bunging out sweeties and call-and-response catchphrases; showing off serious pipes as he belts out soul classics. Whatever lurid nonsense takes place on this stage, he’s in charge."