Goldilocks and the Three Bears


ODN review of  Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Tom Whalley

Dorchester Amateur Dramatics Society

Like many of the village productions that we saw over the course of the Winter Festival, Dorchester Amateur Dramatic Society had the difficult task of turning their small but charming 1870’s village hall (complete with fireplace and vaulted ceiling) into a performance space suitable for pantomime.  A stage was built at one end but no wings, no tabs and very little backstage space for set or props (or cast!).  However, this inventive company managed to pull off a very entertaining production that the packed-out hall clearly enjoyed.

Russell Bailey, the director, ensured that what little space they had was well utilised by the cast and the action never felt constrained.  The cast made use of the foyer as one of the entrances/exits which allowed them a little additional space, rather than all coming in and out of the entrance at the back. 

The circus theme to this take on the classic Goldilocks tale was well reflected in the amazing stripey backdrop which was pinned to the flats to look like a circus tent – it looked really effective and was a wow opening to the first scene.  The only slight issue was that it did take some time to remove it ready for the next scene with backstage crew on ladders unpinning the fabric from the boxed set.  However, I did go on the first night, so I imagine things speeded up for the following performances.  (Note – I do sympathise with all backstage crews as they generally only have 2 or 3 rehearsals-if that – to practice these things whereas the cast have weeks or months of rehearsals to get their parts right!).  I thought the scenery was well thought out and constructed – the cottage scene was lovely and the trees were beautifully painted.

I enjoyed the use of cheeky little sound effects throughout and the lighting was simple but effective.  A big shout out to pianist, Ian Salisbury, who worked his socks off all evening delivering all the accompaniments to the well chosen songs as well as entertaining the audience during the interval (I hope someone bought him a beer!). He was great and a real asset to the show.

It was a relatively small cast and for practical reasons there was no chorus except for a couple of ensemble members, so the cast had to work really hard to achieve that big production feel – and they really did!   There was some really lovely performances – Anne Winslett gave a charming performance as Mystic Sharon and was suitable costumed in flowing scarves and jangly jewellry.  Alice Hope was excellent as Dame Gertie Dollop with good comic timing and plenty of gusto which is exactly what you need from a dame as they drive a lot of the comedy.  Hayley Poole as Silly Billy was well cast and came across as suitably gormless and in love with Goldilocks.  I particularly enjoyed Carol-Anne Tilley’s performance as the nasty Ringmaster Heinkel who reminded me of the MC in Cabaret.  I did find though that the heavy accent was difficult to understand at times but it didn’t really matter as she was very expressive in her actions and moved well around the stage with her sidekick Snot, played by the suitably downtrodden, Stu Poole.  Goldilocks played by Lucinda Kenrick had a lovely bubbly stage presence and great energy throughout the show and kept her father Baron Wasteland, played by Ian Brace, on his toes trying to persuade her she can do better than a life with Silly Billy Smart and his circus – before amazing us with his strong man circus skills himself!  The three bears played by Ed Metcalfe, Rosemary Mills and Sally Bell worked well together and I though their make-up was really effective.   The smaller cameo characters – Magical Keith played by Maxine Briscoe, Colossus played by James Pratt – and the ensemble Graham  Baxter and Richard Farrant all added to the entertainment with colourful turns.

Although there were a few missed cues and wobbly lines, all in all, I thought that this was a solid colourful production with some nice traditional elements.  It was well executed by the director and his cast, given the constraints of the venue, and it was clearly appreciated by the audience.  I loved the personal shout-outs to the various community groups that were in the audience, which served to create a lovely community atmosphere.   “We wish you a Merry Christmas” was an unusual choice for a final song but I thought worked really well and sent everyone home feeling very much in the festive mood.

Well done DADS!