Sunday, June 7

Peter Pan

- December 20, 2019

Last night I was taken back to my childhood and the Christmas shows that gave me my life long love of pantomime. But surely those of you who know me will be be saying that Peter Pan is not a pantomime. And you’re right, Barrie’s classic is a Christmas show and does not follow in the great tradition of true pantomime – well not until last night when the entire show was instilled with so much panto palaver that it came pretty close to being the real thing.

And all good pantomimes should be filled with fun, certainly something for the kids, then mums and dads and finally grandparents. It was pretty much all there, from dancing tots to silly villains and the whole peppered with song and gags.

The script on this occasion was light, the writer certainly not afraid to leave the Darlings in Neverland rather than returning them to their London home and Tiger Lily’s costume was so not Native American Indian that any thought of racism could be easily dispelled.

This is of course Brighton so it should come as no surprise that the whole was very camp, very camp indeed. From a swishing Captain Hook played by Nathan Charman to a toweringly tall chorus boy as a saucy traffic warden. Charman was charmingly wicked and full of bluster.

On then to Smee his disloyal side-kick and again pretty camp, but in a way that was both inoffensive and well balanced.  Richard Dawes held the whole thing together with this loveable portrayal, a performance filled with energy and delight that won the hearts of the audience young and not so young.

And how relieved was I to see that Peter Pan, played by Michael Ruben, was actually flying – I feared in this pop-up theatre space in Brighton’s Hilton Metropole that it might be a “walk on” part but there he was, up in the air and adopting the classic foot to knee pose. Hooray for that!

The comedy highlights of the evening though came from BBC Radio Sussex star Allison Ferns as Dolores the Mermaid, who knew that the popular presenter could not only sing but could belt it out like Bette Midler, the girl rocks! No doubt that is why so many scenes were created to feature her talent in a role that is seldom more than a tiny cameo. And skipping in a fishtail! The director is both mad and a sadist!

The company included lots of comedy songs and routines, all good but perhaps one too many and at the cost of plot, but I’m old school. JM Barrie might have been spinning in his grave but I’d lay odds he was laughing too.

This show, ragged as it is in parts, is the pure essence of Christmas good cheer and an ideal outing, if you can get a ticket, for the whole family. I left with a smile on my face.

19 December

Hilton Brighton Metropole

Andrew Kay

Rating: ★★★★★




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