Panto review! Peter Pan
Fly off to Neverland for Reading's Xmas show starring CBeebies rock star, Justin Fletcher. You'll be hooked.
God bless you Mr Tumble! Back from Peter Pan at The Hexagon in Reading with one very tired but extremely happy nipper who loved the swashbuckling piratey adventure of the boy who never grew up and his Lost Boys. The odds of this being a good panto were always going to be strong, with the brilliant Justin Fletcher returning for the fifth year and alongside award-winning dame Paul Morse who was back in his vertiginous heels, wigs and greasepaint.
Justin is the big name draw but alongside Paul Morse – this pair are what make this panto great – razor-sharp timing, strong voices and some real comedy chops. The two had The Hexagon crying with laughter during the classic slap stick kitchen scene – with a touch of mischievous reworking of the script by Morse (Nanny McSmee) to spice up the gazillionth performance of the show. Which resulted in a hilarious fall when Nanny lost her wig.
If you’ve been to the Hexagon panto over the last few years you’ll be familiar with the annual Bra That Was Made to Fit Three pastiche of The 12 Days Of Christmas but every year it remains a massive crowd-pleaser – this year the ‘five toilet rolls’ were thrown into the audience. At the end of the song, the crowd were blasted with water guns from the stage and from up high. It was genuinely very funny.
A big plus for the show this year was the quality of the supporting actors – David J Higgins, who played the Beast in 2012’s Beauty and the Beast, is back playing the villain this time as Captain Hook. He clearly relishes in the wahahaha of it all and laps up the deafening boos. Kieran Morris’s Peter Pan and Becky Burford as Tinker Bell make light work of the flying scenes, darting gracefully on wires across the stage. And Kate Eaves as Wendy definitely wows with her stunning voice – this girl has serious pipes on her and she can act (*thud*).
Special mention must go to the set and costume designers who do an epic job. The opening bedroom scene is stunning and Paul’s dame costumes are phenomenal.
Any criticisms? Well the routine of the ghost behind the team sitting on the bench is an oldie, and given we already have a reprise of The Bra… it would have been good to have something new at this point (though admittedly it was funny and the kids were going crazy for it). Other than that, the whole thing rollicked along rather beautifully. Best of all it avoided the usual dilemma of one half being much stronger than the second.
Take a trip to Neverland this Christmas, it’s hilarious and at just over 2 hours 30 minutes long, I was tucked up in bed by 10.15pm. Just call me Nana Muddy. Zzzzzzzzz