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Peter Pan on Ice (tour – Canterbury, Marlowe Theatre)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Watching a professional ballet company is impressive. Watching dancers do the same, but with sharpened metal on the bottom of their feet, is something else.

Even though it's not directly aimed at children, Peter Pan on Ice makes a surprisingly good introduction to the theatre for youngsters. Broken down into its constituent parts, it's very close to popular kids’ shows. No dialogue save for very, very occasional narration, and a simple story told clearly through dance with music dictating emotion. Indeed, the children present were enraptured by the action, and better behaved than many of the adults – one of whom loudly complained that they: “didn't realise there wouldn't be any bloody talking”.

The action is kept moving along by the imposing Valdis Mintals who plays writer JM Barrie and ties scenes together by physically manipulating characters. This is most regularly depicted by having him hold dancers aloft with just one arm. He's very good at it, and he does it a lot – which becomes a little comical as we make our way deeper into the story. Nonetheless, he is an excellent performer, with incredible strength and gravitas.

There is not a single weak link among the rest of the cast, many of whom play multiple parts, and manage to give each character their own kinetic characteristics. The clumsy, knockabout style of the Lost Boys is particularly effective. Circus skills involving ropes, hoops and fire are also employed to give the show an edge often missing from ice dancing.

Some of the action was a little bit off – falls, bumps and stumbles – but these instances were few and far between. The only other drawback was the sound system dropping out momentarily, which meant that for a few brief moments we were watching Miming on IceMice, as I would like it to be known. 

With performers like this, any show will be enjoyable. Perhaps it was best summed up by something overheard at the interval: “I watch Dancing on Ice on television and think the celebrities are really good, but then I see something like this and realise they're still rubbish.”


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