All the stops have been pulled out for this year’s pantomime in Richmond. There’s fire dancing, lots of flying, bursts of mega-confetti and The Fonz from ‘Happy Days’ (aka actor Henry Winkler) in a wig.
From the garishly-coloured, unsubtle cardboard backdrops, to Tiger Lily’s ‘one for the dads’ low cut Indian costume, this is a Christmas show with a vast amount of sparkle. It’s a pity, then, that for all its bells and whistles, ‘Peter Pan’ has as much heart as Scrooge on tax deadline day.
JM Barrie’s poignant 1904 play about lost boys, motherly little girls and fantastic adventures is a staple of panto season. Songs by Katy Perry, Guns N’ Roses and Madness sit somewhat awkwardly next to the piece’s wholesome, earnest magic, and the plot’s larger than life characters – pirates, fairies, flying boys, Indian chiefs – are milked for all their comedy value in Eric Potts’s adaptation.
But, in Ian McFarlane’s production, we’re not made to love any of these characters. Even Dermot Canavan’s Smee, the pirate who doesn’t really want to be a pirate, feels like someone put there just to get the audience shouting.
Winkler as Captain Hook – a panto character he’s revisiting – is an old pro, reeling out the script’s almost suffocating ‘X Factor’ references with a nifty smile and a wink. But though his performance is perfectly respectable, it lacks spark – much like the show itself.
Richmond’s 2013 panto is a cynical lesson in big budget predictability. The necessary elements are present (audience interaction, dancing, singing, comedy double takes) but they appear with such clockwork regularity that by the end, the show feels like it’s covering tired, well-trodden ground.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell
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A fantastic night out! A superb production, with a great cast and talented singers. Henry Winkler certainly did not disappoint as Hook and the Happy Days references had the older members of the audience cheering. I was impressed at the set changes, costumes and quality of music. I agree that Peter Pan seemed to old for the part.
Worst panto we have seen, very disappointing, No elements of panto, Grandchildren were bored ,lacking in slapstick comedy, dames, and rappor with the audience.All characters lacking in any personality The Fonz was the Fonz with a wig and most of the audience wouldn't know who he was anyway. Wont go to richmond Theatre again to see panto! very poor.
Your review is fundamentally correct - this is a lazy, 'by-the-numbers', pantomime. At no point does one care about any of the characters. Peter himself is profoundly irritating, with his one-tone, gimmicky performance, all jazz hands and over-enunciation (every line delivered in exactly the same way). My family was definitely willing Hook to see him off. The 'plot' was rushed through so quickly that all emotion was squeezed from it. When Tinkerbell - a brave attempt at a new interpretation, but utterly lacking in personality - nearly 'died' and the audience was invited to clap if they believed in fairies, nobody cared. All of this would be forgiven if the script was funny, but the jokes were non-existent. There was a camp bloke, Roger the Cabin Boy (CRINGE!). I think he was supposed to be funny, but in 2013, you have to be funny as well as camp. Camp without humour is just annoying. Winkler was going through the motions on a straight nostalgia ticket, except the real joke was that Happy Days hasn't been on TV for over 15 years and most of the audience had no idea who he was. Smee only came alive when interacting with real children, because the script tied his legs together (and not in a funny way). The songs had all the soul of an X Factor semi-final, and absolutely no relevance to what was happening. Overall, just awful.
If you didn't know the story you wouldn't get it from this production which mainly featured red Indians with Northern "ee bah gum" accents dancing to pop songs. Henry Winkler played a very insipid villain, definitely not worth the huge sum he was apparently paid, and they obviously cut down on the supporting cast to facilitate his fee.
We took our two boys aged 2 and 4 and they were absolutely engrossed in the panto and were playing pirates for a few days after. The panto was fast moving and a great atmosphere was generated by the cast especially the Jolly Roger. I would recommend this panto as part of your Festive plans.
Really great atmosphere Henry Winkler great as Hook definetley worth a trip to this theatre its absolutely briilliant,great supporting cast,the omly week link was the actor playing Peter Pan thought he was to old for the part and nowhere as good as the other actors in it. Go take the family they will love it.Be warned take a credit card for the Richmond Theatres ice creams £12 for 3 small tubs !.you have been warned. Ed Newbrook.
Fantastic idea for a great Christmas start. We love going to the threatre with our 6 year old little girl. Always a joy at Richmond 10 out of 10.