Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers is the first in a series of shows for children I will be reviewing over the festive period. My thanks to Battersea Arts Centre for the ticket.
This latest show by Sleeping Trees follows their usual pattern of mashing up stories, but is squarely aimed at a younger audience: Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers runs in the Battersea Arts Centre’s council chamber and encourages movement and noise as part of their “relaxed performance” strategy.
As John, James and Josh leaf through Nana’s story book, they discover that all the endings have been torn out. Once Goldilocks meets and follows the White Rabbit in the cottage of the Three Bears, things get very odd indeed, and by the time Athos, Porthos and Aramis turn up, the madcap nature of this panto is complete.
Sleeping Trees are “a narrative-driven sketch trio” and their flair for comedy is obvious throughout Goldilocks. John Woodburn’s dastardly Alice is a hoot, while Josh George Smith’s Hatter and Humpty have a feel of a Biggins about them, and James Dunnell-Smith makes a delighful storybook heroine.
Quick changes and inventive plot twists keep the show moving, though, with characters such as Alice, Mad Hatter, Humpty Dumpty, Santa, BFG, and “The Greatest Snownan” all playing their part. Props, too, are fun, from tiny teacups and a carrot to a succession of hats.
With the traditional “Oh no it isn’t” refrain and a hearty sprinkle of songs, a shrinking portion, and a battle royal at the North Pole, this Goldilocks is entertaining, but the complex storyline and cast of characters could cause very small children to get lost. That it appeared to hold their attention is a tribute to the performances on stage.
Directed by Kerry Frampton, and co-written with Ben Hales, who also provides on-stage musical accompaniment, this panto provides rib-tickling amusememt for parents and a healthy dose of audience participation for little ones. Zahra Mansouri’s set design holds childhood’s sense of wonder and Pablo Bas Fernandez’s lighting gives a sprinking of magic.
Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers continues at Battersea Arts Centre until 31 December.