REVIEW: Peter Pan
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REVIEW: Peter Pan, Theatre Royal Winchester
By Kevin Gover
It’s a well-known fact that children are often introduced to live theatre through pantomime. Give them a good experience here and you’ve got them for life.
Well, so it was that as I looked around the auditorium at moments through the performance at the children sitting behind me, I could feel every angst of pain they were feeling as Tinkerbell ‘drifted away’ – or when one of our heroes was being poisoned. They were totally captivated.
Most of those ‘wow’ moments came in the flying sequences involving Peter Pan (Nichole Bird) and Wendy (Eleanor Bennett) which were quite amazing – and they used the entire stage as they flew off to Neverland behind a screen onto which various landmarks were projected (and a great joke on Big Ben).
For me, the man that held it all together for fun, excitement and audience participation is Ed Thorpe who plays Smee (pictured below left, alongside Julian Eardley, Mrs Smee). It’s a difficult job to keep the excitement level going for two hours, and he did a grand job.
He only graduated four years ago, but seems to dominate the stage when he’s on with his near-football stadium chanting to get the children in the audience in the mood and on his side. Yes, there’s water involved – and yes, most of us got wet amid squeals of laughter and delight – and that was just the adults.
The ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ routine was amazing throughout and a joy to watch. I was amazed at the tricks that Smee got up to with the toilet rolls! The frenetic rushing about alongside Captain Hook (Jonathan Hansler) was quite breathless – as the Captain’s moustache seemed to have a mind of its own.
Well done too to all the younger members of the cast who probably should have been at school in the daytime performance that I saw. The draw of Neverland was probably a little better than double maths I think! Great stuff.