Goody Two Shoes
16th February 2018
Needingworth Village Hall
Type of Production
Neal Dench & Emily Moore
Author: Julie Armstrong
What a pleasant surprise to find myself at a little known pantomime for once: Goody Two Shoes! I had certainly never heard of this one before, and from speaking to people around me, nor had anyone else! The venue was Needingworth Village Hall, for another production from Wellworth Players. After roughly four months of panto season, I was looking forward to seeing something new, something where I did not know what was going to happen in the storyline.
And I was not disappointed. In true old-fashioned panto style, this production had everything from the pantomime dame and the evil villain to the comedy double act and the sweet Goody Two Shoes herself. With plenty of up to date jokes, references and songs thrown into the mix, this production had the potential to be superb.
With several familiar faces, it was nice to see actors fulfilling different character roles and working on their craft. The panto dame, Molly Coddle, was played by Mark Hebert, who I have seen in many plays but never in the role of panto dame before. This was a successful departure for Mark, who had some great comedy timing and delivered his lines with conviction - getting into character and proving that there is nothing like a dame! Chris Thompson, in the role of Teddy, once again showed us what a versatile and talented performer he is. Chris is able to take on any role: comedy, pantomime, or straight acting - and always gives a convincing performance. His physical skills and body language are spot on, and his facial expressions are excellent. Chris is able to convince the audience that he is having a great time on the stage, and whether he is singing ‘I’m So Excited’, reciting his silly sayings or being chased by the baddies, his ‘show face’ is permanently in place and he never fails to impress. Another great performance from Chris.
Lizzy Elliott, as Goody Coddle, gave us a sound performance - reliable and steady - as did her love interest Simon, played by Simon West. Séptica - Abi Pearson - was an unpleasant baddie, but perhaps could have taken the character even further through body language and facial expression. Geoff Durrant and Maggie Redgrave as the Elf Cobbler and his wife, looked great in their costumes and gave convincing performances.
Rolo and Polo, Mark Ullyett and Francesca Mann, were the perfect comedy double act, oozed confidence and worked well together. The characterisation here was excellent from both, with elements of Rik Mayall from Mark, I thought. ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’ was delightful and pulled on the audience’s heartstrings too. I really enjoyed these characters - well done!
Cissie, played horribly (and I mean that in a good way) by the utterly unrecognisable Karen Bays, was a hideous character, brought to life superbly by Karen. The characterisation here was excellent and Karen captured Cissie’s grotesque nature beautifully. But the man who stole the show, for me, was Paul Silver in the role of Titus Tightwad. Everything about this character just worked, from the costume, the physicality and diction, to the utterly convincing way that Paul played him. A superb job from a versatile and talented actor.
Adding to the cast were several villagers and children, with lots of singing and dancing involved in these ensemble scenes. There was perhaps a lack of direction here, but I did feel that these characters all needed to smile more in the song and dance numbers - it felt as though we had stumbled upon a quick rehearsal. Perhaps we can forgive the younger members of the cast (but please take note for next time, your ‘show faces’ are very important!) but adults at the back, slapped wrists here! You may be at the back but we can still see you.
The set was lovely, simple but effective, with painted scenery and some basic lighting changes. Sound effects and music were used to good effect, but with no mics, I am sure that some of the audience members on the back row would have struggled to hear. Some vocals were not projected at all and diction was lost. However, make up special effects would have more than made up for this, as the red cheeks on everybody screamed at us from every angle! The art of blending would have helped here and try to offer some alternative colours, as every character appeared to have shared the exact same bright red blusher - even Séptica with her questionable red contouring, although I did love her serpent eyebrows!
Directed by Neal Dench and Emily Moore, this was a thoroughly enjoyable production, made all the more interesting by the fact that it was unfamiliar. In a departure for Wellworth Players, who often use self-penned scripts, it was a risk, but one that paid off. It was rather lengthy for a pantomime, with a 10.20pm finish meaning that several younger audiences members did not quite make it to the end, and I feel that some of the song and dance numbers could have been cut completely or at least shortened. This would also have allowed for more rehearsal time to perfect these scenes for the ensemble. However, at just £6 for a ticket, the audience certainly got their money’s worth.
Wellworth Players always produce an enjoyable piece of theatre for us - and tonight was no exception. Thank you Wellworth for another great evening of entertainment.