REVIEW: THE DAME (Park Theatre) ★★★★

“My armour, my war paint, the battle out there: it’s all I’ve ever known.”

The Dame transfers to the Park Theatre after a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe. This one man show stars Peter Duncan and was written by his daughter, Katie.

Katie was inspired by the idea of a lonely entertainer wandering along the seafront on a bleak winter day; she imagined him as a ‘warrior Pantomime Dame’, going out on stage every night because it’s all he knows how to do. On stage he is invincible but off stage, without the protection of his costume and makeup, he’s forced to confront his past. She also researched her own family history; her father’s parents were music hall performers, but she is clear that the Dame we meet here is fictional.

The Dame is set in the dressing room of seasoned Pantomime Dame Ronald Roy Humphrey, returned to his Northern roots for the Christmas season. The curtain has fallen on the last show of the day and Roy is in a melancholy mood as memories and ghosts from his past return. The show takes the audience behind the mask of the entertainer, exposing the human being and the truths beneath.

The Peter Duncan on stage here is very different from the jolly adventurer from Blue Peter and Duncan Dares, he is a highly talented stage performer running the range of emotions through this 70 minute show. He enters in full makeup, huge dress and heels, regaling the audience with excerpts from panto, and leaves dressed in a coat and flat cap. He removes his layers and tells his tale, by turns tragic and funny, leading us to understand why he moved away. The Dame is a well written show performed by a wonderful storyteller with nods to the seaside entertainers of the past.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Robert Workman


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