"lovely show full of surprises"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 04/12/17

A real old-fashioned lavish production in the real Christmas panto spirit and at the same time remarkably faithful to J M Barrie’s famous story.

This lovely new Theatre searing 1200 persons is this afternoon is awash with tiny children for the 1.30 matinee

The Happiness begins when Chris Wong’s Overture strikes up with ‘Bring Me Sunshine.’

At the same time, on the enormous screen there are pictures of London with the old dirty Big Ben – then the curtain rises and we are in the Darling’s nursery. This is when we are first introduced to the additional character to the Pan story. Mrs Smee played by Ben Roddy – the Marlowe would be bereft of their Dame if Mr Roddy was left out. Mrs Smee does not, of course, exist in the Barrie story, and I am not quite sure whose side she is on as she appears in every single scene – always in yet another sumptuous frock. An unexpected noise causes her to say, ‘That is J M Barrie Whirling in his grave’

Wendy Peters is a sweet Mrs Darling who every so often appears on stage, or in a box singing Nothing’s gonna harm you = a theme repeated by other characters throughout. Ms Peters also has a great fun as Chief Squatting Cow of the Crazy Horse Tribe and also as a daft TOWIE style Mermaid.

David Ribi is a perfect rascally Peter who flies in from the Gods over the excited audience. He introduces Tinkerbell (Jo Osmond)as his friend who came from Boulogne to Calais – a Cross Channel Fairy? Yes, there are a lot of gags – some of them unheard before by me. Samantha Dorrance is a gentle and motherly Wendy in contrast with Gemma Hunt as Tiger Lily, a feisty young woman who gives a great feminist speech which is hugely applauded by the audience. (You are never too young to be political)

There are teachers in the audience who get a lot of ribbing from the cast. Smee has a feather duster to dust the head of one, ‘He’s not bald, he is just taller than his hair’.

The settings and costumes by Melga Wood and Morgan Brind and lit by Peter Harrison are magnificent. The settings are helped by a revolve which allows frequent scene changes and a gauze front cloth. The Black Eagles acrobats are frequent visitors to the scene and perform seemingly impossible stunts and pyramids. I love the Totem Pole they make in the Indian scene.

Shaun Williamson is a wicked, brilliantly attired, but comical Hook whose best laid plans never seem to work out and he is pursued by the life-size crocodile. The pirates are a scurvy lot and one in particular shivers her timbers at every impossible opportunity – billed as ‘the overacting pirate’

It is an intelligent script by Paul Hendy who also directs and the choreography is by Jono Kitchens.

This is a pantomime for children, but it is equally enjoyed by the grown ups present.

It is a lovely show full of surprises. Much laughter and a few tears. A Real Christmas Treat.

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