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Mother Goose - Derby Arena Review

Reviewed by Bethany Hill
Disclaimer: tickets were gifted in return for an honest review.

Ah, pantomime! The great British tradition that plays a crucial part in the festivities of many families year on year. Derby Arena’s production of Mother Goose this year is an absolute masterclass in Panto, offering a dazzling Christmas outing for all.

Photo by Robert Day

The show offers everything that a panto-loving fan can expect; extravagant outfits, audience participation, edited pop classics, snappy one-liners for children and adults, and wonderful slapstick comedy. Mother Goose tells the story of the titular character and her magical goose Shelley Bassey, who lays golden eggs. Her goodness is tested by the evil Demon Vanity who longs to prove that all humans can fall to vanity itself. With adventure along the way with her son Benedict and a host of other friends, helped by the glimmering fairy Charity Case, this show goes to prove that good will always triumph over evil and that everyone is beautiful in their own way!

The set of this production is striking and extravagant. Not only is the stage itself huge, but gilded in glitter and colour that are mesmerising from the off. Throughout the show, there are beautifully painted backdrops, use of high wires and props that bring the magic to life from the first curtain rise. Not only that, but through the show the audience is subject to super soakers and special giant golden eggs with characters making their way through the audience to create a fun, immersive feel.

The writing of this show is outstanding. It encompasses all the audience script you’d expect (think he’s behind you, oh no we aren’t) plus added playful word play, snappy one liners and comment on current events. We get a pizza-making session between Mother Goose and Benedict that had audience of all ages howling at the physical comedy and then audience gasps at the dance number of Demon Vanity himself. The show also pays homage to the city of Derby; the twist on Barbie Girl by Aqua encouraging us to ‘come on Derby, let’s go party!, which this show certainly encourages throughout. Speaking of music, the creative team pick the perfect balance of topical references (including Barbie’s Dance the Night Away and Kylie’s Padam,), pop classics like Abba’s Lay All Your Love On Me, and the musical theatre bop Fabulous, Baby from Sister Act.

The performances in this pantomime were just fantastic. Ben Tanner plays Shelley Bassey, a goose with attitude who brought joy with clever costuming and some EGG-cellent dance moves.

Photo by Robert Day

Roddy Peters and Nicola Martinus-Smith play the Baron and Rosemary, a loveable father-daughter duo who adventure with the family to save Shelley from the clutches of the evil villain of our show. Djalenga Scott is our glittering Charity Case, the magical fairy who brings gorgeous  vocals and sparkle to the stage. Playing Mother Goose’s energetic and super smiling son Benedict is Kristian Cunningham, a returning player to the Derby Arena panto stage who had such dancing talent and wonderful comic timing. Demon Vanity is played by Coronation Street’s Todd Boyce who had the audience in his clutches from the off; anyone who can illicit such boos must be the perfect villain. I loved his song and dance number to Padam; absolute camp joy!

Whilst the entire cast gave their all and produced incredible performances, the absolute star of the show had to be Morgan Brind who played Mother Goose herself. Morgan proved why he has previously won ‘Best Dame’ at the UK Pantomime awards. He had amazing vocals, carried off the many dazzling costumes with ease, showed brilliant comic and improvisation skills and ace audience interaction. His back and forth with audience member Simon in the front row was fantastic and we felt so warmly towards her character from the first moment on stage till the last.

Whether this is your very first pantomime or an annual festive tradition, Derby Arena’s Mother Goose is a must-visit this December and the perfect pantomime.


The show runs until New Year’s Eve and tickets are available from

Photo by Robert Day

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