Pantomimes have got to be one of the easiest things to review. We’re not Grace Dent giving her thoughts on Stoke Newington’s latest Vietnamese-Brazilian fusion pop-up restaurant or Giles Coren deciding which one of his children he dislikes the most. It’s a pantomime at a camp, ol’ gay bar. You go in knowing it’s going to be bawdy, saucy, snappy, and all the adjectives your gran uses to describe Graham Norton.
And lo and behold, Goosed! does not disappoint. It’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern’s latest seasonal outing, after last year’s triumphant Prince Bendover in Boots. It tells the tale of a slightly dilapidated pub in Vauxhall-Land called The Goose, with the absence of punters causing consternation for the landlady, Mother and her twinkish Bar Manager, Jack. By a stroke of good fortune, they’re visited by the impish Fairy Lamé, who kindly bestows on them a magic glitterball to hang from the ceiling that will ensure the dance floor is always packed. This draws the ire of Kelly-Anne Con-Witch, who’s pitched up down the road ahead of the opening of the AmeriKeeLand Embassy. She’s got her eyes on that glitterball, but can the staff of the Goose and hot cop Finn stop her malevolent scheme?
This year’s script comes courtesy of Paul Joseph and Tim Benzie, the two minds behind the grotesquely kitsch PopHorror club nights. As you can imagine, it’s positively overflowing with eye-rolling innuendo, close-to-the-bone gags, and sharp song parodies of the likes of Katy Perry, Steps, and Lady Gaga. The cast is made up of many returning actors and familiar faces from the London drag scene, including Topsie Redfern doing a gloriously manic turn as the screeching Con-Witch, Robert McNeilly taking on the panto dame role with gruff gusto, Alan Hunter breaks out in some surprisingly good dance moves as Finn the hot cop, and Jack is irresistible as the doe-eyed, dim hero. And to top it all off, Faye Reeves is quietly brilliant every time she pops up on stage in her wide range of bit part roles.
We went on preview night and in typical RVT style, there were a litany of mic failures, missed cues, and breaking out of character. If this were anywhere else, it might put a dampener on the evening, but in front of a crowd three pints to the wind, it all adds to the messy charm, with actors shrugging off hitches with a wink and a smile. So round up friends, colleagues, family, and anyone you know that has a rudimentary understanding of fisting, and treat yourself to this most festive of romps. We guarantee that even the most stone-hearted of you will head out into the cold Vauxhall night feeling all fuzzy and Christmassy inside!
Goosed! runs over various dates between 30th November to 4th January, at Royal Vauxhall Taverm, 372 Kennington Lane, SE11 5HY, tickets £17 from vauxhalltavern.com