Peter Pan – Review – Hull New Theatre
By Karl Hornsey, December 2017
The panto season is in full swing and Hull New Theatre have got a cracker on their hands with this year’s choice of Peter Pan. I’ve seen a few pantomimes in Hull in recent years, but this one proved to be head and shoulders above the rest, offering the time-honoured combination of fresh-faced hero against the evil bad guy, plenty of modern tunes thrown in to entertain the kids, and lashings of lame gags and innuendo for the adults.
All of which seemed to go down particularly well with the packed audience and, in this day and age, it’s wonderful to see such traditions not only surviving, but positively thriving.
Former EastEnders actor Jonny Labey takes the role of the eponymous Boy Who Never Grew Up, bringing a nimble vitality to the part, often high above the stage, as he tries to save the children of Neverland from the clutches of the evil Captain Hook.
“Having far too much fun”
And it’s the casting of Hook that really brings this to life, with there being no doubt that this is Darren Day’s show. His portrayal of Hook is as Cockney as it comes and, while he may be there to bring some menace and fear to proceedings, he’s having far too much fun to try to keep up the archetypal villainous role.
Instead, he’s involved in all the best scenes, coping like a true professional with misfiring props, forgotten lines and plenty of corpsing, following the golden rule of never once taking either himself or the panto at all seriously.
His extensive experience in musical theatre clearly stands him in great stead to lead the show and, as well as receiving the customary boos and hisses from the audience, his near-the-knuckle sketch with Brendan Sheerin and Ricky K about a pleasant peasant pheasant-plucker is worth the entrance fee itself.
The cast also includes former Emmerdale actress Charlie Hardwick as Mimi the Magical Mermaid, who joins Day in a memorable version of Frankie Valli’s ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, which I’d wager has never quite been performed in such a fashion and to such adapted lyrics.
Added to fantastic all-singing, all-dancing performances from the youngsters in the cast, there is a hugely popular, high-octane 3-D sequence at the start of the second half, in which a whole host of fearsome sea creatures come to life and into the audience – so make sure you either take your 3-D glasses with you or grab some at the interval.
Throw in the physically exhausting rendition of ’12 Days of Christmas’ to round things off and the fact that, at around two and a half hours, there’s no doubting this is value for money for the whole family, then I would heartily recommend this to people of all ages. Oh yes I would…