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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke


🎭 Goldilocks and the Three Bears 

📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Tuesday 19th December 2023

⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️


Last night saw my final of 44 visits to Theatre Royal Plymouth this year! I was there for this years pantomime offering Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Billed as The Greatest Panto On Earth, the production stars former Strictly Come Dancing professional Brendan Cole, double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes and Coronation Street star Alexandra Mardell.

Bearing only a passing resemblance to the fairytale on which it is based, we follow goings on at Circus Olympia, where Baby Bear becomes the star of the show but is stolen and caged by Baron Von Bolshoi, the owner of the rival Circus of Nightmares. Of course Goldilocks and her fellow circus performers rescue the contained ursine and the Baron is defeated.

Not the most thrilling or sensical plot in the history of theatre, but this is pantomime so all rules go out the window! The lack of plot is even mentioned by one of the characters! I love the element of the production making fun of itself in this way.

The show is more reminiscent of something like The Royal Variety Performance, with each character getting a chance to shine and perform their act to the audience, and the story links each of these sections.

There is no denying that this production is a visual spectacle. The lighting design by Ben Cracknell is spectacular and really brings the stage alive. Similarly the costumes are full of sparkle and I especially enjoyed some of the outfits adorned by Samuel Holmes. There were some issues with the music levels, and at times it was a little difficult to hear the performers over the music.

Adam C Booth is the very embodiment of entertainment and gave a fantastic performance as Joey the Clown. He had great banter with the audience and was wonderful with the children from the audience who came on stage for a performance of Music Man.

Steve Hewlett was great fun as Silly Billy and alongside his army of puppets, he gave a polished ventriloquist performance. In my opinion Samuel Holmes as Larry the Lion Tamer was underused in this production. He had a sensational singing voice and great characterisation and I would have loved to have seen more of him.

Dame Kelly Holmes is making her debut panto performance in Goldilocks and the Three Bears as Ringmistress Olympia. Admittedly not the strongest actor, she is full of energy and is joyous to watch. Alexandra Mardell is someone else who seems a bit underused as Goldilocks. She has a pleasant singing voice, but this could be hard to hear with the music levels.

Brendan Cole is good as the evil Baron Von Bolshoi and bathes in the glory of the boos and hisses he receives! We are obviously treated to his dance skills and the delighted audience gave him well deserved rapturous applause.

The star of the show for me though were the incredible ensemble who gave a sensational performance throughout. Real masters of their craft, they were completely mesmerising. As a huge musical theatre fan I enjoyed their versions of songs from musicals such as 42nd Street and The Producers and it was during their performances where I felt the production came alive the most.

Maybe not the greatest panto on earth, Goldilocks and the Three Bears is still lots of fun and I would highly recommend it. There is a real wow moment when an elephant appears on the stage, and I enjoyed the chaotic song about what the performers would be doing if they weren’t in the circus. This kind of song is a real staple of any pantomime from Crossroads and is always one of my favourite parts of the show.

What this panto is missing for me was a dame and naughtiness. I wanted much more innuendo alongside the dad jokes as this is something I have come to expect from any good pantomime. This felt a little bit too safe for me although there were some great topical jokes littered throughout and the Janner Bears, complete with Plymouthian accents, were a comical touch.

Overall though, this is a great night out for the entire family. Ultimately it’s silly and fun and fills you with the feel-good factor from start to finish and I would definitely watch it again.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears continues at Theatre Royal Plymouth until 13th January 2024. There are limited tickets remaining for the run so head to to secure yours before it’s too late. 

Neill Kovacic-Clarke

All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest, fair and free from influence. Theatre is subjective and it is important to remember that all views expressed are just those of one reviewer.

My ticket for this performance of Goldilocks and the Three Bears was gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to watch the show in exchange for my honest review. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in the content of my review or the star rating given.


Brendan Cole as Baron Von Bolshoi; Dame Kelly Holmes as Ringmistress Olympia; Alexandra Mardell as Goldilocks; Samuel Holmes as Larry the Lion Tamer; Steve Hewlett as Silly Billy; Adam C Booth as Joey the Clown; Rexford Boadu as Daddy Bear; Emily Law as Mummy Bear; Eleanor Walsh as Baby Bear; Gordon Marquez as El Mariachi Marquez

Ensemble: Poppy Blackledge; Jack Buchanan; Amélie Cohen; Evangeline Jarvis-Jones; Ben MacGillivray; Ellie May-Wilson; Nathan Ryles

Featuring: Children from the Theatre Royal Junior Ensemble

RUNNING TIME (approx):

2 hours 10 minutes, including interval


- Contains use of pyrotechnics, flashing lights, loud music and sounds

- Water thrown into audiennce

- Watch out if you're a dad on the front row!

Production Images by Steve Tanner

The Theatre Royal Plymouth is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West and is the largest and most attended regional producing theatre in the country. Their mission is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue offers three performance spaces of various sizes, the largest being The Lyric which accommodates the big touring productions. The Drum and The Lab are smaller, intimate spaces and often offer pioneering productions.

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