Monday, 4 December 2017

PANTOMIME REVIEW: Peter Pan at Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury


The Marlowe production in 2016 won a pantomime of the year award with Dick Whittington and this year's offering of Peter Pan starts with great confidence using a camera to poke fun at the audience and an excellent Peter Pan graphic and London skyline animation. This transports us into a very strong opening scene in the Darling's nursery. The fresh approach bringing the whole cast into the nursery, not just the Darling family and Peter Pan but also Mrs Smee, Lily and Starkey. Their entrances, the children through the stalls, Mr Darling in a circle box and Peter flying in from the upper circle creates an exciting dynamic opening. Added to this is a break dancing Nana the dog, an effective projected dancing shadow and a lively dance routine. 

The strong opening continues with a good flying sequence to "Don't stop me now" to Neverland and a brilliant comedy routine with a wheelbarrow of fruit which firmly establishes Mrs Smee, Starkey and Hook as the driving energy of the production. But just as Mrs Smee comments "if you listen carefully you can hear the sound of JM Barrie revolving" , the show settles into a traditional telling of his Peter Pan story and the production never quite hits this level of the opening scenes.

Ben Roddy, as Mrs Smee in his 20th consecutive Pantomime, his 8th at The Marlowe is an excellent dame, revelling in the role and engaging the audience with his jokes and asides and working hard to establish a new catchphrase,"it's the law", accompanied with a lunge! He forms a strong double act with Lloyd Hollett as Starkey and they enjoy most of the best scenes including the traditional ghost bench sketch and an amusing rowing boat sequence. 

The strength of their relationship dominates the show and overwhelms David Ribi as Peter Pan and Samantha Dorrance as Wendy who become secondary characters.

Shaun Williamson is well cast as Captain Hook and is always a strong Panto villain with a good voice although in this performance he seemed to be holding back at times. Wendi Peters is worked hard in multiple roles and is at her best as Mrs Darling, including singing " Nothing is going to harm you". Her Mermaid
sequence is less successful .

Jo Osmond is a lively and fun as Tinkerbell and the Black Eagles add some impressive acrobatics and fire juggling as part of the pirate crew. 

As always the Evolution Marlowe pantomime is fun and enjoyable with a good ensemble cast, a clever three sided truck (the pirate ship,The lost boys home and the Indian rock) and attractive projected front cloths and as in previous year's delights the Canterbury audience.

Review by Nick Wayne

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