Review of 'Mother Goose'


One of the biggest pantomimes in England this year is “Mother Goose” featuring the talents of the beloved Ian McKellen (best known perhaps for his performance as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films, but also renowned Shakespearean actor) as “Mother Goose” and comedian John Bishop as his/her husband “Vic Goose”.

The show starts with a brief introduction by Bishop. The story, if anyone is paying any attention, is about Mother Goose's fortunes taking a turn for the better with the return of “Cilla (played by Anne-Jane Casey), a magical goose, who promptly lays several golden eggs. This allows Mother Goose to relocate her family of animals to the Tower of London (!) but she is tempted by the evil fairy (boo-hiss), trading Cilla for fame and fortune. Of course, this is all just an excuse for a bunch of silliness including a messy food sequence, various, impressive, dance numbers and some equally impressive singing from the cast.

As might be expected there are a number of references to current events and knowing winks to the cast members themselves including a recurring theme of McKellen stopping mid flow, staring into the distance shouting “Orcs!” with the music from Lord of Rings playing, brought back from his reverie by Bishop. As with most pantos the actors leave their egos at the door with McKellen completely into it, jumping and running around the stage in drag throughout despite his, shall we say, advanced years. Bishop shows his trademark Northern dry whit here to great effect, working very well with the manic performance of McKellen.

The staging is quite simple but effective and the show did seem to drag on a bit particularly in the first half where there are a large number of digressions and points where the cast are laughing so much they have to stop for a few minutes (“corpsing”). This does not happen so much in the second half which is much shorter and feels much more rushed as if they have spent all of their creative energy in the first half and, time is getting late, simply want to go home. Indeed, with a 20 minute interval the show comes in at just over 2.5 hours long which in the evening means it ends after 10:00 pm which is quite late for young children…not that this is really a panto for the really young, though they do the normal panto bits of throwing things into the audience, “he's behind you”, etc, etc.

It might seem odd to be seeing a pantomime in March when they are traditionally a Christmas thing but this show has toured the country for a few months now. This is even commented on by one of the performers with a bit of an ironic and weary look to the audience. Even so, it is a great lot of fun, just, as Bishop tells us, relax and enjoy a bit of silliness (well, HUGE big of silliness).

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2023-03-01

Liverpool Empire

Location: Liverpool (England)

Address: Lime St, Liverpool L1 1JE ENGLAND

Public Transport: NRLOGO Liverpool Lime Street


The Liverpool Empire is a large 2,348 seat theatre located immediately adjacent to Liverpool Lime Street train station. The large auditorium has a single balcony (circle). There a number of bar areas including in the main lobby and at the circle level. The building is in good shape with a relatively recent refurbishment bringing modern in modern facilities and, occasionally, a slightly brutalist feel to the architecture.

The theatre puts on a variety of shows, often with short runs, including shows touring England.

Theatre Interior

The nearest parking is in St. Johns Shopping Centre just a short walk down the road (this is 24 hours).