Peter Pan review at Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury – ‘fresh and energetic’
Traditional can often mean stale but Paul Hendy knows panto too well for that. His latest, immaculately well-targeted pantomime for the Marlowe is a fresh and energetic affair.
The trad bits include some magnificently silly costumes, lots of flying, a smashing crocodile, plenty of shouting out and a good old singsong. But this Peter Pan also includes ‘synchronised swimming’ in lieu of a slosh scene, some high camp mermaids and, a Hendy invention, the “spurious comedy routine”, a pun sequence based on the items in a wheelbarrow. These are manically pulled out at top speed. This time it’s fruit and vegetables. (“See that man go.” “That’s shallot.”)
Ben Roddy and Lloyd Hollett are regulars at the Marlowe. As the dame and the funny guy, as ever they spin off each other expertly. Roddy’s expressive feet, Hollet’s rueful grin and their skilled timing of lines are a masterclass in how it should be done. This year they’re joined by Shaun Williamson, who gives a decent basso profundo Hook, and the hugely competent Wendi Peters, who is variously earthy, shrill or blunt according to which role she’s playing.
Hendy misses a trick, however with the inclusion of the Black Eagles. The four-man acrobatic troupe from Tanzania are jaw-droppingly good and should have a proper slot of their own rather than being used as an occasional 30 second afterthought.