“The only thing you need to improve is your trust that you are fabulous!” That’s the message at the heart of Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow, the one-Dame show that comes to the Lion & Unicorn Theatre from 21 to 26 May 2019. Read what performer Robert Pearce told us about creating the character and spreading her important message, then book your tickets!
Using a heady mix of songs, stories and audience participation, Mama G entertains audiences with her tales of tolerance, equality, being who you are and loving who you want. Audiences get to meet a host of characters, from confused unicorns and feuding fairies to champion twerkers and even Oprah!
Created by Pearce, Mama G is a regular at libraries, museums and festivals across the country and has also been seen on stage in Canada and on screen in the USA. Her show has been described as “A unique audience experience in which adults revert to children” by British Theatre Guide, while London Pub Theatres said: “Everyone needs a Mama G to show them how be brave, loving, considerate and open-minded human beings.”
Pearce is something of a panto veteran, having appeared in 25 professional pantomimes and also written and directed others. His company, Petite Pantos, produces Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow. When not starring in panto, Pearce has also starred opposite Tommy Steele in The Glenn Miller Story, played Bungle in Rainbow Live!, performed in Romeo And Juliet and appeared on Britain’s Got Talent.
With its all-embracing message, Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow is suitable for family and adult audiences. The run at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre will even include two, specially-trimmed 60-minute midweek matinees aimed exclusively at school groups.
Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow is part of an exciting spring season at the newly relaunched Lion & Unicorn Theatre that also includes Turn Point Theatre’s new play exploring grief, River in the Sky, and 90s-set tale of coping Hedgehog.
Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow runs at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre, 42-44 Gaisford St, Kentish Town, London NW5 2ED from 21 to 26 May 2019 with performances Tuesday to Saturday 7.30pm, matinees Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday 2pm, Sunday 5pm. Tickets are priced £10. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
Robert Pearce interview
What inspired you to create Mama G?
Mama G came out of trying to find a way to do panto all year round! I think that panto is an incredibly important genre of theatre in this country that sadly is often seen as a throwaway entertainment by professionals and audiences alike. I realised, a few years ago, that panto is actually in a really special position, as it is designed for every single generation to enjoy together and consequently has a greater ability to communicate than almost any other type of theatre.
In a particularly low period personally, I started writing a short children’s story to give myself a creative output. I finished when I was down at the Brighton Fringe, playing Mother Goose (who is traditionally a storyteller) and I realised I should read it to children to see if they liked it. I coerced a cafe to let me have a go, telling them I would do it as the dame (and so I could promote my show) and voila! I updated Mother Goose to Mama G, to make her sound a bit cooler and that’s where this beautiful monster was born…!
Where does Robert end and Mama G begin?
It’s a fine line! Part of being a pantomime dame is presenting a character, but also revealing your own personality as an actor. I’ve been doing panto for almost 15 years and over time I think those two sides have started to merge! Mama G is certainly more of an extrovert than I am – she’ll say and do things that I never would; but when it comes to the message that Mama G spreads that you should be who you are and love who you want – we both agree with that!
Why do you think it’s so important to spread Mama G’s message of being who you are?
It’s important because so few people get told that it’s okay to be yourself. Whether you’re a child or an adult, the media is always telling you to improve some part of who you are and, as far as myself and Mama G are concerned, the only thing you need to improve is your trust that you are fabulous! It’s natural as humans to question things about your life – and quite often people will question those things for you – but I hope that, by coming to see Mama G, when they get older and start to question themselves, children will remember this funny person in sequins who told them it was okay to be whoever they want to be, and that that will, in fact, make the world an even better place!
How do audiences respond to Mama G?
Audiences love Mama G! I mean that genuinely, although it is, of course, the answer I would have given anyway. Children and adults feel really comfortable around Mama G and quite often will tell her things that they wouldn’t dream of sharing with their families.
It’s not unusual for Mama G to get tons of hugs from children and adults have been known to get a little teary – I think because a lot of them are hearing stories that they wished they’d heard as children themselves. For some adults it will be the first time that they find someone like them at the centre of the story.
As Mama G is in the panto tradition, different generations will take different things from her performance. Children will get wrapped up in the stories about unicorns, fairies or dancing, while adults will love the risque jokes, pop culture references and chances to dance! It’s a one person show, so the tone can change quite fluidly to how the audience is responding – but it’s never too rude and it’s always a party!
How are you feeling about staging the show at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre?
I am so excited that the Lion and Unicorn Theatre has invited me to present Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow on their stage. Proforca Theatre have given the space a new lease of life and a wonderful ethos, ‘Be who you want to be’, which is totally in line with everything that Mama G is about.
Fringe theatre is rarely a place for children to visit, so I’m thrilled that the revamped Lion and Unicorn are ready to open their doors to family audiences!
Why is theatre a great way of spreading this message?
Theatre is a great way of spreading any message, but, in my opinion, it does have to spread a message! The panto dame is a perfect way of spreading this message because the character has been playing with gender for hundreds of years and is an accepted part of British culture. The dame role relies on the children seeing a truthfully played mother character, but then also understanding that it is a man; I think that is the perfect way of sharing the message of being who you are and loving who you want!
What can audiences expect from a trip to see Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow?
They can expect sequins, confetti, songs, puppets, dancing, a few rude jokes, lots of laughing, some reflective moments, a unique shared experience, a panto dame out of context, a warm welcome, a well stocked pub, a decent roast, a great atmosphere, the feeling of being at the start of something great and of course – to become lifelong fans of Mama G!