York: the tale of two pantos. The drama of Berwick Kaler’s sashay across the city to the Grand Opera House is surely water under Ouse Bridge by now, so let’s just consider ourselves lucky to have two tempting Christmas shows to choose from. Thanks to an ill-timed bout of covid last year, Old Granny Goose was our first experience of Berwick and the gang at their new home. Having grown up watching their trade mark nonsense every Christmas, hopes were high that it had travelled well.
Indeed it has. There’s even less of a plot than usual – something vague about a goose and a fairy that doesn’t make much sense – but no matter. There’s plenty for fans of Berwick, Suzy, David and the gang to enjoy, from boos and hisses to local jokes, Wagon Wheels and silly costumes that we’ve come to expect. There’s perhaps less slapstick than usual, but Kaler’s slightly slower pace (he’s in his mid-70s after all) is more than made up for by the all-singing, all-dancing chorus and supporting cast. And there aren’t many people in their 8th decade who fly across the stage every night or transform themselves into Barbie (don’t ask – it has to be seen to be believed).
With two tired children in tow, we were grateful for the slightly shorter running time and for the very comfortable seats with extra legroom. The Grand Opera House has recently had a gorgeous makeover, improving the whole theatre-going experience, from the bars to the loos. As big fans of fairy lights, we were particularly taken by the fairy lights that framed the stage – proof, if we needed it, that just about everything is better when it’s twinkling.
So would we recommend Old Granny Goose? Absolutely. Our two daughters – 10 and 8 – really enjoyed it, although they’d like to have seen more of the goose (the real star of the show). We all liked the live music and original songs, and it was nice to see a little gaggle of children performing too. It’s a bizarre but entertaining show that will please the devotees but may baffle anyone stumbling across it for the first time. As a family with a 2008 Berwick Kaler magnet on our fridge, it’s a Christmas treat to see the whole team going strong again this year. Here’s to the next.
Old Granny Goose runs at Grand Opera House York until 8th January 2022 – Visit the website for more details and to book