If you are looking for a funny, family-friendly panto then look no further as Peter Pan at Royal & Derngate is all you need to keep you laughing throughout the festive season. JM Barrie’s famous book has been adapted to make this wonderful story into a show for all ages. It is the classic tale of Wendy and her two brothers John and Michael who go on an adventure to Neverland with Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up.
Peter is played by Joe Sleight and he is a very boyish and fun Peter. Joe flies across the stage and more importantly he gives Peter that boyish charm that allows him to get away with him having at least three girls who like him at arm’s length. Wendy is played by Millie Davies and she is perfect in the role. She has a lovely singing voice and gives Wendy an innocent manner. Tinkerbell is Peter’s fairy. He says it as if everyone has a fairy and I wish I did but maybe not like Tink as she is a bit naughty. Tink is played by Abigail Dever and Abigail can not only sing, but she can dance on skates. Very impressive. The star of the show is undoubtably the wonderful Darren Day. He plays Captain Hook and is the sexiest Captain Hook I’ve ever seen. He looks like he should replace Simon Le Bon in Duran Duran as he doesn’t have a long curly wig but a silk scarf tied around his head. He is very easy on the eye and I found myself thinking I wouldn’t mind be captured by him. He sometimes sounds like Del-Boy with his London accent but Darren can act. He is absolutely phenomenal in the role. He is funny; he is sometimes scary and he interacts with the audience in a wonderful way. We all know he can sing and I loved how he delivered Blondie’s One Way Or Another. Darren wants you to boo him and unless you boo loud enough, he may walk of the stage so we need to be really loud to stop him. Its original and brilliant. I loved it when Darren says ‘I was a West-end star. I was Joseph. Now I’m stuck in a net in Northampton’. Its just perfect timing and delivery that makes him so funny. A truly wonderful performance by Darren.
The humour comes in the style of the Grumbleweeds and I promise that you will not stop laughing. They are worth the ticket price and one of the best funny acts in the country. The Grumbleweeds are Robin Colvill and James Brandon and they play Smee and Starkey. One of my favourite jokes was their differences when Robin says he is all designer. His jacket is Armani; James’ is Our Dave’s. Robin’s shoes are Versace; James’ are Verruca. There is also physical comedy with a stool and poor James sits on the stool and it falls down to reveal a spike. He tries to get Robin to sit on it but the seat doesn’t fall down for him. It’s a classic and was adored by the audience. At one point they come out in disguise – as Teletubbies. They also try their luck at singing – well at least Robin does. He wants to do a duet with Mimi the Mermaid played by Rachel Wooding, singing Lift Us Up Where We Belong, but with James in charge of sound you know its never going to go smoothly. Rachel as Mimi is fantastic and has an amazing voice. I also enjoyed her singing with Darren changing the words of Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You to making it about a fish lunch. This was my wedding song and I don’t think I will ever hear it in the same vein again. It will always make me laugh.
The cool factor is delivered in the form of dance as Flawless are one of the best dance groups in the country. They are certainly flawless in their routines and their dance is tight and impressive. Dancing to some funky tunes, they breakdance and show off their fast footwork which is current and stunning to watch. Choreography throughout the show was excellent and all the cast gave great performances. This is a fantastic family panto which will have you all laughing and wishing you could see it all over again.
Peter Pan is on at Royal & Derngate until 31 December 2018.