Review – Goldilocks and the Three Bears, London Palladium

Friday 13 December 2019

Peter Pan and Snow White are not proper pantomimes according to that doyenne of panto dames Clive Rowe in Time Out. Couldn’t agree more.

The latter was last year’s Palladium pantomime. Goodness knows what Mr Rowe will make of this year’s offering, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Yet to Phil, this rarely performed story will always be a pantomime. It was the second one he ever saw, his first was, ahem, Little Miss Muffet. This was, naturally, a few years ago and at the Theatre Royal Bath with Sandy (Can you hear me, mother?) Powell as the dame. How he gasped as the bears’ woodland cottage unfolded to reveal the interior of a two-storey house before his very eyes and how the incredible blue of the linings of the chorus’ costumes forever seared his retinas as the story took a diversion onto a Mississippi paddle steamer. Don’t ask.

But this Palladium offering is really a variety show thinly disguised beneath a veneer of pantomime. There is a rag bag of speciality acts within this circus-themed show, including a cheesily-grinning illusionist, Phil Hitchcock, who does some we-could-see-the-wires floating ball of fire schtick and more impressive stuff with real doves, then there’s The Skating Medini who invite inappropriate objectification whilst doing the kind of things you really shouldn’t try at home. But it is left to an act involving motorcycles which will make your jaw truly drop. Oh and there’s a big number from 42nd Street which is led by a tap dancing Baby Bear (Lauren Stroud). Don’t ask.

We won’t bother you with the plot since they haven’t bothered us with one. The Goldilocks (Sophie Isaacs) story as we know it is dispatched within about three minutes through the nature of song. An adapted version of Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” (porridge, geddit?) since you asked. Don’t ask.

The usual rep company of Julian ClaryGary WilmotNigel Havers and Paul Zerdin, are joined by Paul O’Grady who was in the first of these pantos and is again completely eclipsed by Clary, yet he somehow gets top billing. Newbies Matt Baker as Joey the Clown, who appears to be auditioning for the next production of Barnum, and Janine Duvitski who plays Mother Bear as a sex mad swinger. Phil was informed it’s based on her Benidorm character. Don’t fret, there are warnings on the show’s website and you won’t need many fingers to count the number of children in the audience.

The sets, an assault of flashing lights and primary colours, are gaudier than ever. Anyone suffering from epilepsy or migraines should seek alternative entertainment. Coulrophobics should definitely give it a very wide berth.

Musical theatre references (including The Greatest Showman natch) abound. There are plenty of spectacular set pieces, tounge-twisting routines and absurd animal themed costumes some of which are on and off stage in a flash. You can’t say it’s not lavish. Clary’s circus-themed outfits and gags are even more outrageous than ever. He plays the Ringmaster. No further comment is needed. Further cruelty is heaped upon Havers by making him sweat it out in an enormous Father Bear costume which only Prince Andrew might feel comfortable in. It offers Havers a good comedy walk to play with but little else. Wilmot’s Dame Betty Barnum excels with his/her latest and probably cleverest show-stopping routine.

We ran into one of last year’s panto stars, Charlie Stemp at the back of the stalls. Mary Poppins doesn’t do Tuesdays despite him cheerily telling people not to grass him up for being there.

It may not quite be up there with previous efforts but Clary, Zerdin and Wilmot ensure there’s plenty of hilarity. Surely Aladdin, with all the possibilities for innuendo that title affords must be due next year?

Personally Phil would love to see Little Miss Muffet.




4 Responses to “Review – Goldilocks and the Three Bears, London Palladium”

  1. Michael Says:

    How I love this blog. (Unless “a very wide birth” is a Christmas panto pun about the Virgin Mary, it should be “berth”.)

    Have a fabulous Christmas. X

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