It’s panto season again and this year Greenwich Theatre has gone out on somewhat of a limb with its version of Peter Pan. Not only is Peter Pan not a panto in the strict sense of the genre but this is not the Peter Pan story of old.
No, this is Peter Pan - A New Adventure, written by, starring and directed by the inimitable Andrew Pollard.
It is his 12th show for the Crooms Hill theatre and it happens to be one of his best yet. In a nod to the current political, cultural and social climate he’s managed to mix together a heady cocktail of traditional panto fare with a huge dollop of humour, farce, comment, a glorious musical soundtrack and a cracking story sprinkled with plenty of glitter, outrageous costumes and festive pizzazz. In short it’s a winner.
But what of the story? It features a Wendy who is descended from JM Barrie’s original. Gone is the starched white nightgown and mumsy character and in her place is a feisty young woman with a can do attitude, adventurous spirit and who is no push over. This girl definitely can.
Wendy (Louise Young) runs her family’s fish packing business in the London docks aided by the tea lady, Long Joan Silver (Andrew Pollard). But she longs to escape the grey world in which she finds herself and have an adventure.
Her wish comes true when the bell in her necklace begins to ring and she realises Peter Pan (Rory Maguire) is in trouble. She hires a Thames Clipper and along with Joan and the ladies who work for her, she travels to Neverland in a bid to find Peter and Tinkerbell (Krystal Dockery).
Meanwhile, in a neat twist, Hook (Anthony Spargo) and Smee (Sackie Osakonor) have been frozen in ice after the former’s near death experience by being eaten by the crocodile. When the ice cracks they come back to life and they too go back to Neverland in search of revenge on Peter.
Once in Neverland both parties meet and try to get the better of each other - with the inevitable hilarious results - before good prevails.
As usual Andrew Pollard has set the standard high this year with his wonderful story. The cast is strong, and the verbal sparring of Joan and Anthony Spargo’s Hook is brilliantly funny. But credit too to James-Paul McAllister who is utterly hilarious as Ethel Merman, the High Priestess and Percy The Parakeet. His scenes as the High Priestess where he displays his vocal gymnastics with Joan and as Ethel in the Mermaid cove were the undoubted highlights of the show and had everyone weeping with laughter.
This is the panto by which all others should be judged so if you want a cracker of a show this is definitely it.
Peter Pan - A New Adventure is on at Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill until Sunday, January 8 2017. Visit www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk for full listings.