Triumphant panto run ends in real-life drama
The last night of Mother Goose in Ambridge ended with a standing ovation on Friday as the hero and heroine used their final scene to share some sensational off-stage news.
‘At first I feared that Kirsty Miller and Tom Archer, playing Colinette and Colin, were following Kenton Archer’s bad example with mischievous improvisation,’ said director Lynda Snell. ‘But as the story unfolded, it was impossible to be churlish. After all, it was art, imitating life, imitating art, imitating life – a hallmark of my most successful productions. And the audience loved it!’
Miss Miller began the impromptu revelation by declaring:
‘Colin, do you recall the fateful day, when after the trial we slipped away and made sweet music in your car? Well, it seems we went too far! For now I’ve found that I’m expecting – and it’s yours, in case you were suspecting!’
Mr Archer, clearly stunned, responded: ‘I swear, I’ll help you all I can! Oh Colinette – let’s see the scan! Our baby – gosh, how proud I feel – it beats having your own brand of ready meals!’
Pat Archer, Mr Archer’s mother, said she was ‘surprised, but delighted’ at the news. ‘It’s not every day you hear you’re going to be a granny in rhyming couplets,’ she said. ‘But I always hoped Tom and Kirsty would get together again. It’s a shame my husband Tony couldn’t be here, but he’s at home fitting his new brake shoes on his Fordson.’
The unscripted finale marked the end of a triumphant run for Mother Goose, which was a hit with audiences and critics alike (see Reviews, below).
2017: your year in the stars
Will the New Year bring success for Scorpios or anguish for Arians? Astrologer Janet Planet reveals what fate has in store:
Aquarians in search of ‘the one’ may find it pays to be more spontaneous this year. Affairs of the heart cannot be confined to a spreadsheet. Someone you may have discounted, for trivial reasons like having criminal connections and naming her children after football teams, may have other ideas!
Storm clouds are on the romantic horizon for Pisceans. A lover with poultry connections may turn out to be a bad egg, and the south coast, specifically Brighton, is likely to be an unlucky place for you this year. Older relatives, though intensely irritating, may be right after all in their disapproval of your life choices.
Brave Arians will be looking forward to a fresh start this year but may find it hard to put past traumas behind them, especially if they insist on lurking about like a bad smell. New friends who have been through similar experiences will be a source of comfort, so ignore family members muttering into their sherry about allowing ‘that sort of person’ into your home.
Taureans who have been ‘flip-flopping’ over a romance may start the year feeling they have lost out to a rival who is more ‘up for it’ than you. But have faith: a long-distance relationship between Ambridge and Hungary is unlikely to last, and there is only so far you can go on shared memories of the Sealed Knot.
The year begins with family strife and business dilemmas for senior Scorpios. You may find yourself locking horns, beating your chest, roaring and generally mixing up alpha-male-related metaphors as you struggle to persuade younger relatives that you know best and what you say still goes. So there.
Theatre review: Mother Goose (Ambridge Players)
This Goose is no turkey!
Tristram Hawkshaw writes:
I confess I normally look forward to the annual Ambridge theatrical production with as much enthusiasm as an appointment with my dental hygienist, except that it seems to take twice as long, and involves even more discomfort.
So it was with trepidation that I took my place in the village hall and noted that, despite the refurbishment, little seems to have been done to tackle the Siberian draughts.
The cast list did little to inspire confidence, as the name ‘Toby Fairbrother’ had been scribbled out and ‘Pip Archer’ hastily scrawled in for the role of Priscilla the goose. The prospect of a last-minute replacement for such a pivotal character (described in typical childish fashion as ‘silent, but eggly’ in the programme) was, frankly, unbearable. I congratulated myself again on having the foresight to replenish my hipflask (a gift from dear Dame Judi) before setting out.
But – and here I must pinch myself and check the calendar to ensure it is January 1, not April Fool’s Day – I have to say I have rarely enjoyed an evening in the theatre more. Not since the Broadway premiere of Phantom or the extraordinary power of Mirren’s Phedre (get on with it Tristram. Ed) have I seen a production that sails so thrillingly, dangerously close to the visceral collapse of the fourth wall, respecting and reflecting pantomime’s bawdy progenitor, the Commedia dell’Arte, but which also daringly offers an unflinching mirror up to contemporary Borsetshire so the audience is laughing at, with, by and of itself. (Sorry, what? Ed)
Take for example Justin Elliott, chairman of Damara Capital, boldly cast as the wicked Squire. Giving him the lines ‘I plan to build apartments, gyms and parks To sell to foreign oligarchs’ sent a frisson through the audience who remember all too well the SAVE Ambridge campaign against route B. Describing him as ‘the nastiest man I ever met’ raised a big laugh, and Mr Elliott’s wife seemed to be completely convinced by the (on-stage, surely) chemistry between the Squire and the Good Fairy (Lilian Bellamy). (Careful Tristram, Justin’s lawyers read this. Ed)
Costumes, by Kate Madikane, were equally daring and inspired. Mother Goose’s outfit after being transformed in the Pool of Beauty featured a spectacular conical bra, referencing the original ‘Material Girl’, but otherwise left very little to the imagination. Let us just say the audience needed no prompting to supply the punchline when Kenton Archer seemed at a loss for a rhyme for ‘Venus’.
Even the children’s chorus – normally one’s cue to make for the bar with one’s hands over one’s ears – made a creditable showing. Keira Grundy clearly has a future in clog dancing, and Molly Button had a good stab at a Magic Gosling (until forcibly restrained by Mother Goose).
As the stand-in Priscilla, Pip Archer had little to do except flap, honk and – forgive me – fart, but she accomplished all of these as if born for the role.
The cast took three curtain calls, and these were well-deserved, for even the efforts of director Lynda Snell failed to curb their anarchic, subversive, transgressive exuberance. Bravo, Ambridge Players. Bravo! (Is that enough? I have to get to a matinee of the Felpersham pantomime with that bloke from EastEnders in it. Tristram.)