REVIEW: PETER PAN (Greenwich Theatre) ★★★★

Wendy Moira Angela Darling is dead. That’s right, the strong willed and caring Wendy we have known and loved for over a hundred years is dead. At least that is how Greenwich theatre’s Peter Pan begin as this adventure is set in the present at the docks, not in the Victorian townhouse of J.M.Barrie’s original. And for the most part this new adventure is exciting and a breath of fresh air into a well-known story, but did they really have to say Wendy is dead? Where’s the cheer in that?

Instead we follow her granddaughter, also named Wendy and played by the sparky Louise Young, who has fallen on hard times (haven’t we all love?) who must travel to Neverland to help Peter Pan who has got himself into a spot of bother. Andrew Pollard’s script is bold in that this completely new story may rely on familiar characters, but it’s full of new characters and locations that hold the audience’s attention. One particularly fun addition is the Underwater Mermaids Ball which is jam packed with fish puns, camp dancing mermaids and a special visit from a rock lobster (sounds mad but its fabulous!).

As Joan the Tea Lady Andrew Pollard is all bosom and audience interaction, picking on one or two of the dads in the crowd to hilarious effect. At times he can be a smidge of a scene stealer which seems to throw the rest of the cast off pace, but as long as the audience are laughing what’s the harm?

Anthony Spargo gives one of the best performances of Captain Hook I’ve ever seen. Mincing and menacing, witty and silly, he really throws himself into the role, even turning puce with rage at his new ship’s crew’s incompetence. Honestly, if there were Olivier Awards for panto, Spargo would be a shoe in.

There are points where the musical choices are questionable and the action a bit ramshackle, but Greenwich Theatre’s Peter Pan: A New Adventure has a lot of heart. With panto the best way to judge whether it’s a success is how much your ears are left ringing from the kids screams, and this show will leave you joyfully deaf.

Reviewed by Roz Carter

PETER PAN plays at the Greenwich Theatre until 8 January 2017