Review – Peter Pan

December 6, 2013 | By | 4 Replies More

✭✭✭✭✩   Fantastic family fun

Flying off to Neverland with Tinkerbell. Photo © Douglas Robertson

Flying off to Neverland with Tinkerbell. Photo © Douglas Robertson

King’s Theatre
Sat 30 Nov 2013 – Sun 19 Jan 2014
Review by Hugh Simpson

Big, bold and completely shameless, this year’s King’s pantomime, Peter Pan, is certainly one of the best seen there for years.

A new creative team of director Ed Curtis and producer Michael Harrison (who shares the writing credit with Allan Stewart) have provided a little extra spark that dispels any thoughts of the traditional annual effort getting stuck in a rut.

The familiar central trio of Andy Gray, Allan Stewart and Grant Stott seem re-energised and there is no doubting the quality of their performances. Grant Stott (now an ‘award-winning actor’ we must remember) is entirely at ease as Captain Hook, relishing the audience’s dislike and managing to get in a couple of accomplished musical numbers. And if anything, he is even more evil as Wendy’s father, Edinburgh banker Mr Darling, a role that enables him to shoehorn in a few more anti-Hearts references.

Allan Stewart is listed as ‘Mrs Smee’ in the programme, but from the moment he arrives in a balloon we are reassured that this is actually the familiar Aunty May, full of cheerful asides, throwaway lines and good-humoured audience interaction. Andy Gray, meanwhile, gives full rein to his considerable gifts as Mr Smee, able to induce laughter from a single gesture, facial expression or mention of the word ‘balloon’.

It is possible that Edinburgh audiences might now be so familiar with this trio that they have come to take them a little for granted; the injection of new blood behind the scenes, however, seems to have caused them to up their game and it is difficult to imagine they have been funnier. Even teenagers, that section of the audience most likely to find panto uncool, seem to be enjoying themselves hugely.

All performed with relish
Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott. Photo © Douglas Robertson

Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott. Photo © Douglas Robertson

The production is at its strongest when the three stars are on stage together. They instinctively know when to milk a gag and when to stop, particularly in a brilliantly judged mop sequence. So good, that when they are offstage the action inevitably dips.

The production takes the most familiar elements of the Peter Pan – rather than telling much of the story. Which leads to a narrative that bears even less examination than is usual.

In the absence of the traditional romance you would expect in a pantomime, Daniel Healy and Maggie Lynne do not completely engage the audience’s sympathies as Peter and Wendy; the fact that the ‘do you believe in fairies?’ sequence works so well, however, shows they are capable of this.

Lynne and Shona White (Tinkerbell) also add a couple of huge voices to the musical numbers. These speed along thanks to new choreographer Stillie Dee and some excellent dancing – notably from Miriam Elwell-Sutton as a Tiger Lily who otherwise seems something of an afterthought to the plot. Special mention must also go to the young performers from Edinburgh Dance Academy who are excellent throughout.

The thought that has gone into adding new elements while staying in the tradition is crystallised in the welcome return of the old-fashioned songsheet, which uses modern technology to increase the potential for audience embarrassment. Added to this, you have the customary topical references, rewritten songs, cheesy jokes and double entendres – all performed with relish – audience participation, pyrotechnics, a pantomime dog, plenty of flying and a genuinely scary effect. All these combine successfully to create a great night out for all ages.

Running time 2 hrs 10 mins including interval
Run ends Sunday 19 January 2014
Various times
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ
Tickets from www.edtheatres.com

ENDS

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Comments (4)

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  1. Helen McLean says:

    Fantastic show really enjoyed all the laughter all the cast where so good the children fantastic well done

  2. David Legget says:

    I was really disappointed to be honest in the show. I thought last years Mother Goose was really funny and the songs and dance routines were great but to be honest, I never really laughed at all this year-sorry!

    I thought the main characters were a little ‘flat’ too and the non-scripted giggling I found a little annoying sometimes. The end could maybe have been better-the giant crocodile was brilliant so I was looking forward to seeing Hook disappear down between his jaws but instead Hook seemed to just disappear ‘stage left’. My six year old daughter didn’t seem as ‘hooked’ either compared to last year.

    Still, I’ll be there next year and I’m sure Aladdin will be great with loads of laughs and cracking dance routines. For me though, this years Panto would be a 4/10.

  3. Pat Young says:

    I thought the panto was wonderful from start to finish and there was so much audience participation. The crocodile was unbelievable – wish I knew how they did it.

  4. Robert says:

    Just great . Most exciting thing was the shy people dreading the spotlight stopping on them and having to get up and sing the tickle song . Extrovert attractive lady beside me was desperate to be picked as she wanted to dance the tickle song on stage !!

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