Opinion: Ilona Hanne reviews Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Carl Nixon, presented by Limelight Drama and directed by Loren Armstrong with co-director Molly Powell. The show was still in rehearsal when reviewed.
When it comes to traditional festive fun, a pantomime is top of the list, and Limelight Drama’s version of Carl Nixon’s adaption of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is exactly what Santa ordered.
The show’s premise is simple - some years on from her porridge-stealing adventure, Goldilocks is faced with a mystery - her parents admit they found her in the woods as a baby and don’t even know her real name. The only clues she has are the picnic basket she was found in along with a rather old honey sandwich.
Goldilocks heads off back into the woods to find herself, or at least her name, meeting some very interesting characters on the way, and taking the audience with her on a brilliantly funny adventure as she does.
The opening scene sets the (very high) standard for the entire show, with Felix Pease and Freya Newell getting plenty of laughs as Goldilocks’ adoptive parents. The duo bring plenty of physical comedy to the stage and have perfect comedic timing throughout. The two actors are small in stature but big on stage presence, and fully immerse themselves in their roles, using some great physicality to depict the elderly, bickering couple.
As Goldilocks, Ella Butterworth is perfectly cast. She is a confident actor and rightly so, comfortably breaking the fourth wall as she talks to the audience, and fully playing to the silliness of the script. She has a lot of heavy lifting to do in this show and she does it with grace and ease. She brings a wonderful energy to the stage and is adept at bringing the audience energy levels up to match.
Some of Ella’s best scenes are when she shares the stage with Prince Gumbly - expertly played by Cormac Deegan. As he prances across the stage on his hobby horse he gets plenty of deserved laughs, thanks to his brilliant physicality - highlighted as he, very slowly, dives in to rescue a maiden in distress. He is a thoughtful and mature actor, which shines through even in the most slapstick parts of the show, and he expertly draws the audience into the jokes being played out on stage.
Cormac also plays the executioner in this production, and despite the strong contrast between the two roles he moves seamlessly between them, changing not just his costume but his voice, his movement and his expressions so well, you feel forced to double check the programme to confirm it really is the same actor throughout.
You can’t have Goldilocks without the three bears, and the Papa, Mama and Baby bear trio of Jamie Boyd, Georgie Vickers and Indi Haydon are all great fun to watch in their roles. As “don’t call me Baby” Baby Bear, Indi brings plenty of teenage type angst to her character, and uses some great facial expressions to show the audience just how awkward her character feels and exactly how uncool she thinks her parents are.
Jamie brings a clear dad-joke style of father to his Papa Bear, and plays into it beautifully. He’s another confident actor and again, rightly so. He has perfect comic timing, especially as he turns on a “lamp” in his home.
As Mama Bear, Georgie really shines. She has a great stage presence and a mature style of acting that belies her age. Her physical acting skills truly shine when she gets a spoon stuck in her fur, and she comfortably slides from this to the slightly heavier moments in the final scenes showing some great range.
You can’t have a pantomime without a dame of course, and as The Queen, Alfie Edward Healion is outstanding. He brings plenty of energy to his role, and has a wonderful stage presence that, if his fellow cast members weren’t as equally talented as he, would steal the show. He’s another actor who is excellent at engaging with the audience and encouraging participation which makes him well suited to the pantomime genre.
Overall, this production is the perfect Christmas treat for all ages, with a short run time of just over an hour, it’s suitable for younger children while the comedy itself will keep their adults equally amused. Baby Bear’s porridge may simply be ‘just right’, but this show is more than that - it’s perfect.
What: Limelight Drama presents Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Carl Nixon
Where: 4th Wall Theatre, 11 Barring Terrace, New Plymouth.
When: Thursday, December 14 - Sunday, December 17
Tickets: Adult: $20, Child: $15 available from www.4thwalltheatre.co.nz