Just like mince pies for breakfast and mulled wine for tea, pantomimes are one of Christmas’ many guilty pleasures. When else can you go to the theatre and boo and hiss, sing along (with cue cards) and shout out the positions of the actors while having sweets thrown at you?
This then is the biggest stumbling block in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable and beautifully produced production – where is the standard panto fayre? We do get to clap our hands to bring Tink back to life and are asked to help locate her but while reference is made to ghosts and “ghoulies” (thank you Louie Spence) none appear and when we could warn Peter of Hook’s evil approach all is silent, except of course for our booing of Hook. Indeed 'The Hoff' brings us the most conventions in the piece allowing us to “Oh yes we do!” fairly early on.
While some of the traditional panto charms may be thin on the ground overall this production is a treat. David Hasselhoff as Hook, in full pirate gear, manages to play an insecure but strangely threatening Hook all the while taking the mickey of himself – a glorious Knight Rider action sequence, a rendition of “jump in my car” (with hip swaying) and many a Baywatch reference. Louie Spence (maybe panto’s Dame for the new age) is gloriously camp in his pink vest and as Cabin Boy Roger - expect many innuendos.
The pirates do well to create distinct characters for themselves and their cabaret was one of the highlights of the show. A nod should also be given to Nadine Higgin, Donna Hines and Tasheka Coe as The Panettes who carry the show with their fantastic singing and wonderfully extravagant costumes.
Terry Parson’s many layered set is beautiful and the costumes are well-suited to the piece except for Wendy’s dreadful wig. Chris Hatt’s choice of songs is inspired, particularly as Peter lies prone on Dead Man’s Rock and The Panettes sing “The Tide Is High”.
If you’re looking for pure pantomime with everything from classic Dame to cream pie Peter Pan may not deliver but if you’re looking for a fun night out with moments of comic genius and a cast that are working hard to deliver then this is your perfect guilty pleasure.