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Mother Goose, Eden Court, Inverness

Geese that lay golden eggs are far and few between, but there's a rarer bird, as it were, in the Pantosphere: the Principal Boy.

So let's whoop and cheer for the way Inverness adheres to one of the oldest, but sadly neglected traditions of panto and has the thigh-slapping Clare Waugh in the form-fitting mini-tunic and knee boots of Jack Goose.

Waugh really understands how to play this cross-dressed part: a bit gung-ho, but never camp – and she sings well, making the duets with Jill (Lorayne McLucas) not just harmonious but nicely sincere without descending into the snoggery that makes young audiences squirm.

Paul Nivison also has the measure of panto's penchant for sex-changes: his Mother Goose goes from pure trachled wee wumman to glam diva singing: "I'm fab-u-lous, baby!" with an ease that suggests there is an enchanted waterfall lurking off-stage.

A heh-heh-heh of demonic cackles is the traditional melodramatic flourish that announces a flouncingly wicked Demon King (Derek McGhie) but fear not, Fairy Betty (Louise McCarthy) is more than a match for him.

There's good humour from Archie Goose (Alastair G Bruce) and, in a nice twist, from Squire Skinflint (Ian Wotherspoon) who inveigles a member of the audience to help him steal a barrowload of golden eggs in a routine that takes audience participation in hilarious directions.

You'll have gathered, by now, that this is a hugely entertaining family panto, with good-looking designs and some really enjoyable singing.

There's also a joke contributed by a wee boy that brings the house down: "I hate spoons – they're pointless." This show proves that panto is anything but.


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