REVIEW Peter Pan, Mayflower

18
December
2019

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REVIEW Peter Pan – Mayflower
by David Cradduck

Big, brash, colourful and huge fun – but is it pantomime? And would JM Barrie really turn in his grave (as one of the cast quips) to see what a big budget production has done to his original story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up?

There is no denying that this take on Peter Pan is hugely funny and a really enjoyable evening’s entertainment; no expense has been spared to make it one of the most lavish, stylish and spectacular shows I have seen on the Mayflower stage. It’s all still there from the original – the rooftop antics of the Darling family (rather like the dance routine in Mary Poppins, I thought?), dastardly Captain Hook, his pirates and the bad ship Jolly Roger, the ticking crocodile – that has to be the biggest croc I’ve ever seen as it lumbers out menacingly towards the audience – Peter flying in on wires, Tinker Bell(complete with sparkly iPhone), wonderful Wendy and and loveable Smee.

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Add to that the pyrotechnics, special effects, loud accompaniment and explosions, stunning lighting and set design and the whole would be an amazing rendering of Barrie’s opening night 115 years ago when audiences were first stunned by such a new and intriguing storyline.

Ironically that opening night in December 1904 was delayed by nearly a week due to ‘problems with the complicated stage machinery’. No hold-ups these days, the visual and audio effects are as amazing as any CGI or digital effects we see at the cinema.

Peter Pan, both the show and the role, take a bit of a backseat to the other acts going on. Indeed at times you forget that it is panto at all as you are dazzled by a fantastic variety of performances.

You sort of get the feeling that you are watching a Royal Variety Show and the title is purely incidental. For instance The Timbuktu Tumblers, a team of super-human acrobats from Kenyawho take on the mantle of the Neverlanders provide a really impressive routine that is difficult to put into words.

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Then there are Robin Colvill and James Brandon of The Grumbleweeds, a two man comic team who really are extremely funny and would provide the glue to hold the whole show together if it wasn’t for the star of the show, Darren Day, as Smee. He truly is the master of ceremonies and comic timing throughout with his corny but hilarious one-liners and impressions.

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Even headliner Marti Pellow of Wet, Wet Wet as the impressively evil Captain Hook is upstaged by the other stuff going on.

There are some great performances from the ‘supporting’ cast – Jaymi Hensley as Peter, Cassie Compton as Wendy, Tinker Bell (Kellie Gnauk) and Tiger Lily (Micha Richardson). The professional ensemble of dancers and singers and children from the Lindsey Read School of Dance (the Red Team at our performance, with polished performances from the two lads Jasper Croser-Neely and Aedan Pickard playing the Darling boys) provide even more colour and mesmerising action.

Flying motor bikes, a truly magnificently menacingcrocodile, a ship that appears to sail straight towards you, clever projection to enhance some already stunning backdrops and sets, it’s all there, big, brash and with lashings of wow factor. The kids love it and so do the ‘big ones’.

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Whether, like me, you like your panto a bit more homegrown and traditional or you prefer it with lots of techy bling and well-rehearsed ad libs, you’ll love this show as my fellow audience did.

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So tell your family friends to join you and get on down to the Mayflower to enjoy a hugely entertaining evening (or matinée) of Festive Fun and Frolics. That’s one tongue twister they don’t try, by the way… but there’s plenty of others and the odd naughty joke thrown in, so if you plan to take children under five or anyone of a nervous disposition, call the Mayflower team on 02380 711811 for guidance.

Peter Pan runs until 5th January, more details on booking and availability at mayflower.org.uk.