‘Peter Pan’ (King’s Theatre: 30 Nov ’13 – 19 Jan ’14)

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“On deck aboard the Jolly Roger, pint-sized John Darling, with obligatory top hat and brolly, upstages the big, very tall, Captain Hook (Grant Stott) with talk of human rights and the Geneva Convention”

Editorial Rating: Nae Bad 

Hook up with Peter Pan and you’re way beyond parental guidance. There is, of course, no ‘PG’ certificate attached to this ‘swashbuckling pantomime adventure’ that splashes music, dance, colour and broad comedy over young and old alike. J.M Barrie is in small print but never mind for within moments of Mrs Smee’s (Dame Allan Stewart) balloon landing she is squirting water from her eye-catching boobs and foolish, lovable, Mr Smee (Andy Gray) is off on a plump pantaloon’s dream ticket, riffing on ‘balloooon’ until his lugubrious jowls fold in helpless laughter.

The show fits its Christmas billing. The outsize programme features ‘Panto Puzzlers’ – try Michael’s Star Maze for example – and happy seasonal advertising for the young at heart. ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ is a good enough way to Never Never Land (not Musselburgh) …  via the second star to the right. There is lots of fairy dust and spectacular lighting to fly us out of Edinburgh and to transform the ‘wee green bogey man’ into the fearless, battling, Peter who will not grow up.

On deck aboard the Jolly Roger, pint-sized John Darling, with obligatory top hat and brolly, upstages the big, very tall, Captain Hook (Grant Stott) with talk of human rights and the Geneva Convention. Poor preening, impotent Hook! There is snide mention of his little blue pills – Tiger Lily gets leered at – and his quarter-deck shakes a bit as he clashes swords with the agile Peter. His (over-used) command of ‘Pirates Attack’ brings on a nice dance trio who would not attack a sand-castle. Regardless, Stott preps for his dastardly role by a brief appearance as Mr Darling, twirling his moustache and singing a wicked little ‘It’s a banker’s life for me’. The later mention of Fred Goodwin is happily inevitable.

The really funny routines are firmly with the Smees. Allan Stewart and Andy Gray perform with gleeful, twittish and tickling spirit as sparring couple, squashed couple and as a pair of beached mermaids. One scene, involving mops on parade and the baldy joke, is too long but the two become real pantomime villains when with the lights up they turn a tv.camera on the audience. Grown-ups beware!

“But where”, the cry should go up, “is Peter?” Well, he is not quite as lost as his Lost Boys, but he is nowhere near Wendy either, which makes Maggie Lynne’s part sweet but distant. Daniel Healy flies in well – one leg perfectly bent at the knee – but it is not easy to land lines like ‘To die would be an adventure’ amidst the fire balls and dance numbers, not to mention an interloping 007 and Adele. Peter’s rousing ‘Cock a doodle doo’ greetings cannot stand against the fun to be had with sing-along ‘Rum tum tickle your bum, Everyone one shout hurrah!’ or a barfing, “HiYa”, Tinkerbell.

And give the animals their place in this entertaining show: one large Nana dog, all big eyes and paws; Hook’s smart-alec parrot; and the mother of all crocs. You do want to see that croc!

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Reviewer: Alan Brown (Seen 17 December)

Visit Peter Pan homepage here.