The Pantosphere, however, is licensed to delight younger audiences in particular, with a variety of improbable livestock, including geese – not generally known for their affability. But in Priscilla, a very hand- knitted looking fowl, Mother Goose's circus has a lovable star.
What a pity that although the Dame is still a game old bird, their double act is no longer in egg-cellent shape. (There are more egg jokes in Alan McHugh's panto script than Mrs Beeton could shake a spoon at.)
Poor Mother Goose. Her circus is on the slide, she is starting to feel old and ugly with "a body like a bag of spanners" – a look Dame Barrie Hunter takes seriously until he emerges from the Fountain of Youth when it's all short skirts, slinky long legs and a misguided notion she's ga-ga-gorgeous. Sadly, the Perth set isn't ever quite gorgeous enough: serviceable, more like. And the Italian context written into the script needs to be played with a lighter touch: Diavolo's thick cod accent doesn't allow his towering threat of "you're all going down"' its full potential. Michael Moreland does achieve an operatic swagger as the manipulative devil, and in bringing almost every circus performer over to his dark side, it looks as if the goose, and all her chums, are cooked. Then Ewan Donald's hapless clown finds his inner gumption just in time. Maybe not quite a gold star from the brisk schoolmarm, Fairy Fortune, but a VG, with two ticks.