Stardust, magic, flying siblings, secret potions … Neverland; just beyond your imagination, Pavilion panto; just what the doctor ordered.
True to form and hitting all the right notes this year’s Bournemouth pantomime is the family favourite Peter Pan. CBBC’s ‘darling’ Barney Harwood plays the lead boy Peter, delightfully defining his starring role; appropriately humble with an adventurous sensibility.
Peter’s arch enemy Hook is played by Mark Benton of Strictly Come Dancing and Early Doors fame to name but a few. Ever the professional Benton holds Hook’s cheeky and sneaky demeanour effortlessly to a captive audience, beckoning them with the queue to ‘Boo’ from his very opening stage presence.
This enchanting performance gleams all that is expected of a seasonal sparkling show; dreamy lighting, pretty pyrotechnics, starry stage sets, mysterious mermaids, fiery fairies, heart-stopping sword fighting, intrepid plank-walking, chanting and clapping, high’s, low’s, oooh’s and arghs along with acrobatics providing a significant wow point.
Opening the show in the Darling household, in ‘Ole London town’, the scriptwriter clearly being an advocate of Del and Rodney, gives rise to some fantastic ‘Only Fools and Horses’ colloquialisms, aiming agreeably at the adult chunk of the audience. The family dog offers an element of childish silliness, clearly enjoyed by kids and parents alike.
Helena Dowling provides the most spine-tingling singing of the night being the perfect soloist. Welcome to the whole the audience are a few sing-a-long opportunities, modern chart classics very nicely reworked and perfectly positioned into this charming storyline.
There are some beautiful details to this interpretation that may get lost to some of the younger members of the audience but on the whole there is something in this rendition to tickle everyone’s fancy and put a big smile on their face.
Of course the obligatory ‘It’s behind you’ and ‘Oh yes it is; lines are cleverly crafted in to the text as well as some very amusing localisms.
As with any great panto there’s a few freebies being thrown out to the crowd, but be warned, if you don’t want to get wet, book row Z!
Peter Pan will be staged at the Bournemouth Pavilion until 4 January 2015, so get ready for a swash buckling, fairy filled and magical adventure. Don’t miss out!
Words by Wendy Armstrong