Peter Pan – Review – Bradford Alhambra
Peter Pan – Review
Bradford Alhambra, December 2016
by Sandra Callard
The Bradford Alhambra’s Christmas pantomime opens, having made a great name for itself over the past years. The well-loved Yorkshire comedian Billy Pearce appears once again, in his 18th Alhambra pantomime.
This year’s offering is Peter Pan, complete with swashbuckling pirates, a weirdly comic Cockney Captain Hook, flying children, fairies and, of course, Peter Pan. Plus, there’s the biggest and fiercest crocodile ever seen on stage!
Darren Day plays the East End Captain Hook with a tongue-in-cheek casual aplomb that makes you warm to the villain. He is superb as a totally inefficient baddie. His scene with Billy Pearce as he feeds him voice-changing medicine is true comic genius. Pearce is so good that he actually seems more normal as his comic self than he does when he is serious. He is a superb traditional comedian, and he has the audience in the palm of his hand.
“Leaves me breathless, both with admiration and with laughter”
Charlie Hardwick is fantastic as Mimi, the Magical Mermaid. I have some minutes of “where have I seen her before?”, when it suddenly comes to me that I have been watching her as Val in Emmerdale for years. What a revelation she is. A first-class pantomime actress, with spot-on timing, who even manages to keep a straight face as Pearce performs his hilarious routines. No mean feat by any standard.
In Lucy Evans we have a naughty and jealous Tinkerbell, who is the antithesis of a fairy, but is great fun nevertheless. The children rally to her cause in their hundreds as she appeals to them to save her by ‘believing in fairies’. They do her proud, and she happily survives.
Pantomime is by definition over-the-top, colourful and loud. This Peter Pan is all of those. But the delivery is with such finesse and professionalism that it flows easily from one scene to the other. Each scene is linked up by performances front of stage whilst scenery is being changed behind. The presentation by Day, Hardwick, Lee and Pearce of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, accompanied by the objects they are singing about, is an energetic, detailed and precise piece of theatre that leaves me breathless, both with admiration and with laughter.
“Also delivers the fright of your life”
It’s gratifying to see the Alhambra keeping up the tradition of the Bradford Sunbeams, who capture everyone’s hearts. They show an amazing amount of talent and professionalism in children so young, and even seem to enjoy the fun as they perform.
This production, with its bones in traditionalism, has also kept up with technology. You are supplied with 3D glasses as you enter the theatre. They give you the fright of your life as the biggest and most realistic crocodile launches itself into the audience amidst screams, mostly from the adults, and cheers from the kids. It scares the pants off me, but the children seem to take it in their stride, and all appear intact.
This year’s Peter Pan is a superb amalgamation of old and new, whilst keeping it’s roots in true pantomime. Billy Pearce is the comic genius who sets the pace, and he obviously has the respect of the rest of the cast, and the love of the audience. With not a bad performance between them, the cast is first-class, and a perfect foil to the evergreen Pearce. An absolutely cracking night out, and the perfect prelude to Christmas.