Mayflower goes all out for spectacular in Christmas extravaganza

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until December 31.
The Goldilocks the panto - pic by by Stuart MartinThe Goldilocks the panto - pic by by Stuart Martin
The Goldilocks the panto - pic by by Stuart Martin

The Mayflower goes all out for spectacular in a remarkable extravaganza of dazzling lights, jaw-dropping circus acts, huge effects and super glitzy song and dance set pieces. They’ve certainly thrown the kitchen sink at it this year in a Christmas special which screams “absolutely no expense spared.”

And the result is certainly a rich and wonderful visual treat. You might just wonder, though, whether the story is just a little bit too thin.

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You need something holding it together. It doesn’t have to be edge of the seat stuff, but you need a sense that you are going somewhere. I’m not really sure you get that here. There is a surfeit of style when perhaps a little bit more substance was actually needed.

Jason Donovan is the villain of the piece, desperate to nick the bears and seize control of Dame Betty Barnum’s circus, Adam Strong on his dame debut. Strong will realise that he needs to be bigger, far more mumsy and an awful lot cheekier in the part. Faye Brookes plays the title role of Goldilocks beautifully, but in truth she hasn’t got an awful lot to do. Really the show belongs to Richard Cadell with Sooty in tow. Cadell is perfect in the Buttons-type role, keeping energy levels high and ensuring the laughs keep on coming. And he was superb on Tuesday when a couple of children were brought onto the stage. When he told them to savour every second as they took their bow – because this was a moment they would remember forever – he delivered the night’s biggest “oooh” moment. Otherwise, the emotional oomph just wasn’t particularly there. New Theatre Royal Portsmouth deliver it in spades; so too does Bognor. And it matters. It’s a vital part of panto. The circus acts were astonishing. Amazing – and certainly memorable, living up to the “sensational circus where everything is possible” that the Mayflower promised. Maybe the mistake is simply to have called it “the greatest panto on earth”. Other pantos around are far more panto-y. “The greatest Christmas spectacular on earth” might have been the better call.