GOLDILOCKS & THE THREE BEARS
Lichfield Garrick, Saturday 29th October, 2011
A month or so before panto season is truly upon us, this little show is doing the rounds and, judging by the turnout at the matinee I went to, doing good business.
The cast of four work hard to deliver the traditional bedtime story within the frame of rival circus bosses: Goldilocks’s father being one, and the evil Baron von Lederhosen the other. Goldilocks, having broken into their cottage, eaten of their porridge and broken one of their chairs, recruits the Three Bears as a circus act. A dub-step version of The Teddy Bears’ Picnic is their speciality. The Baron kidnaps them and it falls to lovable idiot Simple Simon to save the day.
It’s all straightforward knockabout stuff. The traditional style patter (and by traditional I mean “old jokes”) requires a certain type of assured delivery. As Simple Simon, Ellis Creez gives such a confident performance, combining aspects of Frankie Howerd and Rowan Atkinson in his banter with the adults in the audience and with his physicality and slapstick. The other three vary in effectiveness. The Baron doubles as Sarah the Cook and I didn’t even realise until the end. Mummy Bear doubles as Goldilocks’s ringmaster father. I’ve nothing against cross-dressing in pantomimes but it puzzled me why Goldilocks didn’t call her father mother – there was nothing male about “him”, not even in parody. The costumes of Daddy and Mummy Bear need sprucing up and more could be made of Baby Bear – a cuddly toy/ventriloquist’s dummy.
At the end of Act One there is a “black theatre” sequence during which a procession of Day-Glo creatures performs circus acts. The effect of this is still magical to me but I think the acts need tighter choreography to keep the sequence interesting and surprising.
What I applaud most about this Applause Productions production is that it is theatre for its own sake. There is no attempt to educate, enlighten or inform the family audience, and no patronising, politically correct moralising. That is exactly the kind of thing that could deter young theatregoers from coming back.