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Friday, 22 December 2017

REVIEW: Peter Pan at the Birmingham Arena and the Wembley Arena

Peter Pan at the Birmingham arena (for 4 days) and at Wembley arena (2 days) is billed as the worlds biggest pantomime and by some measures it is . The vast auditorium seating 5000 and a cast of 100 with two big stars in Bradley Walsh and Martin Kemp promises a lot but somehow the story gets lost in translation to this vast space . What we are left with is a Christmas variety show with a comedy ring master and a loose connection between each scene.

The problem is visible as soon as you settle into your cramped seat with a £10 programme in hand . No one has a good view of all the action as the long thrust stage runs through the lower tier seating and half the audience are viewing side on. The large LED screens which are used for some excellent scene setting visuals as well as close up projections of the action become the main way to work out what is going on as the cast fill the available space on the stage and spill onto the large walkway in front of the tiered seating .

There is no magic in this production. When Peter first appears high up at the back of the auditorium you hope he might fly down to the stage but he does not. When he and Wendy do eventually fly they emerge from behind the screens with the full pulley system on show . Worst still when overage Michael and John fly you can see the stagehand pulling hard on the manual lift. When the crocodile finally appears he can only get half way along the thrust stage so the pirates including Hook have to walk back to it and throw themselves at it. You can see these key moments done so much better in many theatres around the country this year.
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