Reviewed by Joanne Hughes
A swashbuckling adventure with laughs all the way!
Yesterday evening, my friend and I and our, rather too excited, children had the wonderful pleasure of seeing the spectacular pantomime Peter Pan at the equally superb Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. I have to say it was an absolutely fabulous show, with all the expected slap-stick comedy, good and evil characters, sensational singing and delightful dancing, as well as the additional fantastic features of awesome acrobatics, a flying motorbike, an enormous crocodile, sword fights and a spinning galleon to boot!
From the moment the curtain went up, we were spellbound with this well-known swashbuckling adventure about a boy who never grows up. Up on the rooftops of Southampton, we meet the enchanting Darling family, a dynamic dancing troupe of chimney sweeps, the comical Smee (Darren Day), a groovy moving Nanny dog who had everyone laughing as she shook her bootie to the song ‘Who let the dogs out?’ and, of course, the young hero of the panto, Peter Pan himself. Wendy Darling (played by the lovely Cassie Compton) is whisked away to Neverland by Peter (the dashing Jaymi Hensley), with the aid of his best friend fairy Tinkerbell and her fairydust, in an enthralling scene of aerobatics and captivating song. Smee, riding on a fantastical flying motorbike, making silly jokes that have us all giggling along, closely follows them.
In Neverland, we meet the evil and menacing Captain Hook whose opening song emanates the marvelous vocal chords of the acclaimed singer and theatre star Marti Pellow, most well known as the lead singer of Wet Wet Wet. The song and setting, which included a band of scurvy pirates and skull images projected onto the stage, were so remarkable that my son made the comment “That was creepy!” afterwards. However, we are quickly laughing again as we meet the hilarious duo, Pirates Starkey and Mullins (aka the Grumbleweeds) whom, together with Smee, provide a wealth of entertainment with corny jokes, impersonations and all round silliness – Smee’s tongue twister scene, in particular, was superb, and the silly skit in which one of the Pirates roller skates naked across the stage results in the entire audience falling about in hysterics.
Kellie Gnauck as the mobile-phone wielding Tinkerbell was full of sparkle and mischief, receiving a deserved boo when she tried to get rid of the loveable Wendy so she could have all of Peter’s attentions, as well as gasps of woe after she swallows the poison that was intended for Peter. The young Darling boys and the Lost Boys provide a truly splendid performance with their sword fights and dancing as they and Peter endeavour to rescue Wendy from the clutches of the evil Captain Hook. In addition, the acrobatics of The Timbuktu Tumblers amazes us, showing daring skills and agility, but it is the ‘awesome’ gigantic, ticking crocodile that brings a scary end to the first half of the show.
In the second half, we were further delighted by a spinning galleon, more sword fighting, fearless acrobats who jumped over, under and through flames, as well as further comedy from the two Grumbleweed Pirates and Smee, including an hilarious fart song for which members of the audience were called upon to participate.
The show was fast-paced and full of energy throughout. The music and dance choreography were amazing, in particular the lyrical adaptation of Ariana Grande’s ‘One Last Time’. The costumes were fabulous, and the set designs were a credit to the design team, particularly the spinning galleon. The performances of all the cast, with a special mention of the children, were truly splendid and to top it all off, we were all overjoyed when good triumphed over evil and Wendy was rescued, particularly as we were treated to seeing the wicked Captain Hook be swallowed whole by the enormous crocodile.
This was a spectacular pantomime which kept us on the edge of our seats all the way through. It is currently playing at the majestical Mayflower Theatre, which is centrally located in Southampton city centre, minutes from plenty of eateries, parking, and the main railway station. This theatre is one of my top favourites, not least due to the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff, as well as the beauty of the auditorium, and comfort of the seating.
So grab your swords and come join the adventure, though be warned you may have to walk the plank!
Tickets cost from £15 to £39.50 (booking fees may apply).
Peter Pan is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from 14 December 2019 to 5 January 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.mayflower.org.uk or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811