The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan

Nov 29 2023 | By More

★★★★☆      Highflying

Festival Theatre: Sat 25 Nov – Sun 31 Dec 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan turns out to be about 98% pantomime and 2% Peter Pan, but is tremendous fun nevertheless.

The ‘King’s pantomime’ may still be at the Festival Theatre this year, but it fills the bigger space admirably. Allan Stewart and Grant Stott are back – Stewart for his 25th outing as a Dame, and Stott for his 25th year in Edinburgh panto – and Jordan Young is now firmly established as a regular. The production is definitely all about the three of them, and is all the better for it.

Allan Stewart, Jordan Young and Grant Stott in The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan. Pic: Douglas Robertson

The emphasis is hinted at by the wording of the title, and further demonstrated by the performer playing Peter (Kieran Lynch) being eighth in the billing – and as they point out more than once, ‘not even on the poster’. The first minute of the show then lets you know that this is a sequel to the original, with Wendy (Robyn Whyte) returning to Neverland.

The plot is something to do with a fairy dust waterfall that supplies Neverland’s magic, which has to be saved from the returning Captain Hook. Tink (Rebecca Stenhouse) is there, so there is a ‘do you believe in fairies?’ bit, a scary crocodile, and some flying, but in all honesty the storyline is even less important than it normally is.

exactly what we want

Instead, it is all about the spectacle – the noise and the colour, a series of gaudy sets and eye-popping costumes, high-volume and tremendously well-drilled chorus numbers, too many fireworks belching smoke into your face, that impressive crocodile courtesy of The Twins FX. It is all extremely brash and resolutely vulgar – exactly what we want, in other words.

The script (by Harry Michaels and Stewart with additional material by Stott and Matt Slack) is stuffed full with the expected pantomime standbys, and the direction of Ed Curtis is pacy and varied.

Allan Stewart and the The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan ensemble. Pic: Douglas Robertson

Stewart’s Aunty May is as fresh as ever, whether descending from the ceiling as Botticelli’s Venus, appearing as various contemporary icons, waspishly interacting with the audience, or dealing with unpredictable younger volunteers.

Young’s suitably gormless Smee also builds up a rapport with the audience, with impressive comedy skills both verbal and physical. Stott has the villainous character nailed, relishing the constant booing, the football references (including one superbly-judged VAR joke) and the opportunity to spark off the other principals.

impetus and rhythm

The routines and jokes are largely familiar, of course, but polished and sprinkled with some up-to-date references that work better than they often do. The deliberate mistakes that had threatened to become overused in recent years are less frequent, and Clare Gray’s Starkey is more carefully integrated into the plot (such as it is) and the various routines.

There is an impetus and rhythm to the comedy that is very pleasing, with enough distinctly lavatorial material to keep the younger attendees happy.

Robyn Whyte, Rebecca Stenhouse, Kieran Lynch and Jordan Young in The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan. Pic: Douglas Robertson

The musical numbers – the usual rewrites of songs by such as Shania Twain, Harry Styles, or The Proclaimers – are well staged and tunefully backed by MD Andy Pickering and his band, with a deal of thought having gone into how long they should be for maximum impact.

The great tradition of speciality acts in panto is revived by having street dance troupe Flawless playing Hook’s crew. Their routines are once again timed for maximum impact, and also give Young a chance to show off his physical comedy skills.

All of this means that Wendy, Tink and Peter are often little more than afterthoughts – as all three performers are appearing in their hometown panto, this is unfortunate. All do still display considerable talent, with Whyte’s singing and dancing particularly impressive.

audience participation

At times there is a danger of it verging on the cynical; the story is simply thrown away, and it becomes a succession of unrelated set-pieces. The audience participation – the lifeblood of panto – sometimes threatens to become perfunctory and too focussed on individual audience members.

However, any production that features the traditional (and too often missed) cry of ‘bring doon the cloot!’ can soon be forgiven. The warmth and craft on display, and the way this appeals to the widest possible audience, mean that the King’s panto is still the cornerstone of festive entertainment in Edinburgh – wherever it may be staged.

Running time: Two hours and 25 minutes (including one interval)
Festival Theatre, 13-29 Nicolson St St, EH8 9FT
Saturday 25 November – Sunday 31 December 2023
Tues – Sat 2.00 pm & 7.00 pm; Sun 1.00 pm & 5.00 pm
No mats: 5, 6, 7, 13 Dec; No evening perf 14 Dec
Tickets and details: Book here.

Robyn Whyte, Rebecca Stenhouse and Clare Gray in The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan. Pic: Douglas Robertson



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  1. Lorraine says:

    Sadly after going to panto every boxing day for 50 years. I and all my family left at interval. Not because panto wasn’t good or Allan Stewart and Grant Stott as good as always but the sheer volume was so intense that you could enjoy the performance or even make out the words to songs. Everyone around us was saying the same. Attendant advised it same volume as every year but I can definitely say it was not. We book same seats year after year. Soo disappointed

    • Unknown says:

      “but the sheer volume was so intense that you could enjoy the performance”…ur comment does not make sense.