Peter Pan review at New Wimbledon Theatre, London – ‘patchy and dated’
Despite the notable absence of a dame, the New Wimbledon panto is unashamedly old fashioned. There’s no attempt at subversion here. It’s not that kind of show.
Rather it’s an assault on both retina and sternum, with the kid of psychedelic, glitter-spattered set which resembles the product of Hunter S Thompson’s brain after a chemically adventurous bender and jokes (bar the inevitable reference to Uptown Funk) so old you could extract DNA from them and open a theme park.
Ian Talbot’s production has a mechanised slickness, but while it makes a lot of noise the first half is actually fairly patchy, all flab and filler, and there are some pretty wonky performances. The energy levels only really pick up in the second half, once the sing-alongs and shout-outs begin.
New Zealand comedian Jarred Christmas is an amiable Smee while an almost unrecognisable Marcus Brigstocke makes a more than serviceable Hook. Street dance troupe Flawless insert some necessary spectacle and physicality into things, but there’s an uneasiness to the use of Verne Troyer as a pirate called Lofty; he feels a bit too much like a human punchline. And while I did crack a smile when Brigstocke lip-synced to Boom! Shake the Room, the dated gender and racial politics which permeate the piece – comedy Red Indians, the sight of three women squabbling over the insipid Peter Pan – and the way in which all this went completely unquestioned, left a bitter aftertaste.
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