The creative team has gone a long way to solving the difficulties of staging panto at the Derby Assembly Rooms, a venue that doesn’t lend itself to live theatre. Video projections on to rippling gauze soften the large and uncompromising stage area and create a magical sense of journeying above the rooftops of London or through the lagoons of Neverland.
So does George Sampson as Peter Pan. He flies a long way out into the auditorium, soaring high above the audience’s heads, and it’s a really enchanting sight. The show is a vehicle for his acrobatics and breakdancing and because his body moves in these extraordinary, impossible ways, he seems insubstantial and otherworldly - perfectly Pan.
A few liberties have been taken with the story, notably the introduction of a dame in the shape of Jason Sutton’s Able Mabel. And the crocodile is a cuddly beast who wouldn’t harm a flea. But Larry Lamb, a magnificently swashbuckling Captain Hook, plays it straight and holds the show and the company together, while Mike McLean’s in-yer-face Smee brings the house down. Just when you think it’s all over, he produces a ventriloquism act with the children who come up on stage that almost steals the show.