It’s not just us is it?
We think the usher who stopped a man humming along at Sunny Afternoon the other day should be given a promotion.
The man in question stropped out of the Harold Pinter Theatre in a huff. Who was he? Did he attend the Bianca Jagger School of Theatre Etiqutte?
Didn’t they teach him he should have gone to a pantomime. It’s the only time of the year we steel ourselves to be tolerant in the theatre, find our forbearing genes and accept the place will be full of kids and parents, talking, screaming, turning on phones and waving things around that light up. We just have to go with it, even indulge in some of it ourselves. Including the singing. Next year Phil promises to buy Andrew a flashing tiara.
But Peter Pan? Well, in our book it’s not a proper panto. It really should carry the warning that Peter Pan Goes Wrong‘s poster does, “This is not a panto”. There’s no dame and a story that doesn’t sit well within the panto format. Which was a shame as Phil and Andrew brought along Brent, who is older than both of them (!) and experiencing pantomime for the very first time.
But then he is from New Zealand, as is seasoned panto star Jarred Christmas who walks away with the show whilst, acting as a sort of panto Pritt Stick, also manages to hold things together. He’s very funny as Mr Smee. Even funnier if you’re attending an evening performance as he slips in couple of adult jokes that had us guffawing so loudly it drowned out the kiddies’ screams.
The other panto virgins in the house were Marcus Brigstocke as Captain Hook, unrecognisable and something of a revelation with his deliciously silly camp swagger and Verne Troyer (Mini-Me from that Austin Powers film) as ahem, Lofty the pirate, who at 2 ft 8 in tall serves little purpose other than to be the butt of jokes about his stature. If that doesn’t make you feel a tad uncomfortable then nothing will.
The uber-prolific panto penman, Eric Potts has adapted J M Barrie as best he can to include contemporary references such as David Cameron’s pig-sticking. We just about recognised some of the songs including “Our House” and “Respect” despite the lyrics being largely drowned out by the band. The story peters out and things flag when Brigstocke and Christmas aren’t on stage, but fortunately the show becomes more about them than Peter (George Ure) and Wendy (Victoria Fitz-Gerald) as the show progresses.
But there’s plenty of gaudily glittery scenery and lots of flying especially from Francesca Mills‘ spunky Tinkerbell, a very funny lip-synching scene from the 3 star names and we were delighted that a panto classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was included as it brought mayhem to the auditorium. And good to see one of the pirates, Colombian Felipe Bejarano, standing out, not only in the chorus, but in this panto staple. Cover your glasses if you wear them – we did get a tad wet. We sang along and weren’t admonished by ushers.
The pre-curtain call scene saw dance troupe Flawless fannying around in light-up costumes. It would have been much better if they’d had Christmas getting kids from the audience up on stage which is always a winner. Or maybe a song sheet. Perhaps Sunny Afternoon should introduce a song sheet at “relaxed performances” for those who believe it’s acceptable to hum or sing along?
If they must do Peter Pan as a pantomime it could be a lot worse, it’s much better than Wimbledon’s last stab at it, which was dragged down by Louie Spence’s Roger the cabin boy, when it should have been dragged-up with a dame.
Peter Pan is getting around a bit at the moment, apart from the pantos all over the country and the one going wrong in the West End there’s also Finding Neverland on Broadway. If you can bear to sit through this pretty nauseating clip Phil found you’ll see it contains two of Phil’s biggest theatrical bêtes noires, balloons and a park bench. Classic stuff.