There’s nothing like a panto to banish the blues, especially if it stars Sir Ian McKellen as Mother Goose – the grande dame of seasonal fun and frolics
The actor Sir Ian McKellen and the comedian John Bishop are stepping out on to the West End stage over Christmas in the matriarch of all pantomimes, Mother Goose. They have already been to Brighton and before their unusually long season is over they will have played in six more cities, from Liverpool to Dublin, finishing in Cardiff on April Fools’ Day.
The pairing of a mid-career comic and a beloved octogenarian classical actor is a twist on the time-honoured tradition of roping in crowd-pulling celebrities to fatten up theatre’s own golden-egg-laying goose. A trip to see panto has become an annual family and school outing, underwriting the theatre world’s overheads for the rest of the year, hence the dismay when the Covid pandemic laid waste last year’s season.