Thursday, 14 December 2017

PANTOMIME REVIEW: Peter Pan at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon


Pantomime is all about traditions in story telling and the audiences familiarity with the comedy routines and interactions with cast . But it is also fun to see new ideas and innovations in the production and this version of Peter Pan introduces us to a new character Eliza (who becomes Tiger Lily in Neverland) and the unusual pairing of the roles of Mrs Darling and Tinkerbell and it is these two roles that stand out at the Wyvern theatre in Swindon . Eliza is played with a delightful charm by Danielle Black and she is the first to get a reaction from the audience and then leads a lively well choreographed opening number in the nursery with the ensemble and juvenile chorus to get the show off to a great start.

TInkerbell is introduced as a green laser spot flitting around the stage until she bursts from the dolls house played by Abigail Matthews with lots of attitude and immediately taking against Wendy, played as a young girl by Lucy Pollard who never really mothers the confident Lost Boys or Peter Pan (Ryan Anderson). 

The pirates are led by Adam Woodyatt as Hook, resplendent in his frock coat and hat and his all action Smee, Antony Lawrence who repeatedly asks the audience to shout back "shave his bum with a lady shaver"! He aspires to be a pop star and this takes us rather oddly into a modern day routine of "One night only" , but he is better with his audience interaction and comedy.

Smee is at his best in the three standards of Pantomime comedy sketches; the "12 days of Christmas" (with Hook and Starkey and 5 custard pies), "If I did not work for Captain Hook" (with Eliza, Tinkerbell and Starkey brilliant physical interaction) and a fresh "bench" song "In the Jungle" (with Eliza and Tinkerbell and six gorillas). These really get the audience engaged and provide entertaining highlights to the show in the full tradition of pantomime . There is no Dame in this version but the role is not missed at all. 

The sound at times is unbalanced with words being lost in the music from the three piece band, not helped by a very loud schools audience and some song choices are a touch mournful like "You raise me up" when Tinkerbell dies and "I am only human after all" to give Starkey a song.

However the audience was hooked from the opening moments, tiger-girl power helped drive the show along and with three excellent Smee traditional pantomime routines, this show provides two hours of family entertainment for the darlings in the audience. 

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★
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