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Review –Goldilocks and the Fab 4  – Liverpool Theatre Festival at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church

Kicking off the final day of this second Liverpool Theatre Festival is another ‘Panto Mashup’ written and directed by Kai Jolley. Set in the same mould as his Fairy Tale Across the Mersey (performed here exactly a year ago) Goldilocks and the Fab 4 throws a box full of characters, story elements and pantomime tropes into the air and then pieces them together into an hour of musical mayhem.

Like making a jigsaw puzzle from a thousand pieces taken out of several different boxes, the finished picture is a certainly psychedelic but there’s a lot of fun to be had in putting it together. In this version of the Goldilocks story there are no bears and no porridge, but there are three toadstools, only one of which is just right. These appear on the way to the enchanted forest, where Goldilocks has been abducted by the Evil Queen, who refuses to let her go without payment in the form of those flowing locks.

Her Fairly Odd Mother (see what they did there?) is left distraught, and seeking the help of the audience in breaking the Queen’s magic hold, to get Goldilocks back with hair intact. On her journey Goldilocks meets a selection of other characters who seem to find themselves in the wrong story. As the hour progresses, four of these turn out to be none other than John, Paul, George and Ringo, but why are they here I hear you cry? Nobody knows, but there it is.

Taking its cue from the hugely popular rock’n’roll panto format, the show is an opportunity to take a selection of popular songs and link them into the story, and the cast do a grand job here of providing some cracking vocals. Especially noteworthy musically is Rebecca Casey as the Evil Queen, whose powerful rendition of Skyfall is a proper showstopper.

These are turbulent time in theatreland and there have been a few casting substitutions throughout the rehearsal period, so it’s kudos to Katie Brown for stepping into the role of Goldilocks at a late stage and making a sterling job of it. Among the other performances one highlight has to be Lauren Haywood’s Ringo, whose first appearance in the mop-top wig proves to be absolutely priceless comedy. The trophy for panto authenticity, however, has to go to Christopher Lee-Power as the Fairly Odd Mother. This is absolute classic damery and the exotic costumes coupled with voice projection of almost Brian Blessed proportions is the stuff of legend.

Do they all live happily ever after? I have absolutely no idea, but what is crystal clear is that both cast and audience are having tremendous fun in making no sense out of it at all. This is a bottle of fizzy pop labelled ‘Entertainment’ that’s been given a jolly good shake up before being opened explosively onstage.

Star rating – 4 stars

Review by Nigel Smith

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