Straight on till morning
Ever wondered what would happen if your dog babysat the kids? Muddy reviews The Anvil, Basingstoke's Peter Pan.
We’re just back from my miniest 4-year-old Mudlet’s very first panto and we loved every minute of it. Oh yes we did.
The production is true to JM Barrie’s childhood classic tale. Expect Peter Pan (Jessica Punch) swooping over the audience with the Darling children in tow, a dastardly Captain Hook (Emmerdale & Hollyoak’s Gary Turner), his sidekick Smee (Cbeebies’ Andrew Agnew), plus Indians, Lost Boys, ticking crocs oh, and a rollerskating Tinker Bell (Helen Petrovina). Brilliant.
Mums of little ones will recognise Andrew Agnew from Balamory; the Cbeebies stalwart also directed this fun-loving panto. His warmth shines through the production and he’s the perfect foil to Gary Turner’s dastardly Captain.
This is the tenth time that the Hollyoaks actor has donned the hook for UK Productions so no surprises that he *ahem* nails the role; suave yet evil in equal measures. The scenes between Turner and Agnew were suitably LOL-worthy, especially the masterblaster skit.
It was Helen Petrova’s Tinker Bell, though, that really stole the show for me. Whoever put a pair of skates on the trained dancer is a genius, she rocked those rollers with a gliding, flitting, fairy-like grace — there was undiluted awe & wander on my four-year-old’s face every time she appeared.
Petrova’s acting was top notch too: vulnerable but spiteful in equal measures, a teenage girl deeply jealous when her crush falls for someone else. We’ve all been there Tinks
Finally, props to Laura Harrison’s feisty Tiger Lily belting out Little Mix’s ‘Power’; I’ve heard Perry, Jade and co perform live (#MumOfAn8YearOld) and her version definitely challenges the original.
The Sets and Costumes
Suitably all singing, all dancing. The flying, as always, is a huge Peter Pan highlight with Jessica Punch’s Peter somersaulting above the audience with gusto. That classic scene where the children float over a London city-scape was also wonderfully realistic, again my miniest Mudlet was entranced.
The Mermaid set was wonderful as well; reminiscent of a thirties Hollywood musical, all conch-shell bras, feather fans and soaring voices.
The only small criticism would be the scuffed gym equipment brought in during the pirates’ tumbling scene, all the more noticeable as the rest of the lighting and set-design was so slick and professional. This was quickly forgotten though with the impressive, circus-meets-panto aerial acrobatics.
Who’s it for?
I’d say from age four upwards. My little girl was squirming towards the very end, but was engaged throughout most of the performance — at nearly three-hours long, that is impressive. The interval is a good twenty minutes giving plenty of time for a loo-stop and ice-cream.
Tween girls especially will love it, thanks to the Little Mix cover and the rollerskating: Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell are both played as the kind of strong and a touch stroppy teen role-models that little girls love.
There were enough over-the-kids-heads jokes to keep the olds happy, some more successful than others. Panto, though, is really for the children and that’s especially true of Peter Pan.
This production conveyed all the story’s magic: fairies, pirates and flying Lost Boys, with enough Tween pop culture references to keep those eight-going-on-eighteen-year-olds on the edge of their seats.
Dix Muddy panto points to The Anvil.
‘Peter Pan’ performances until Sun 7 Jan, The Anvil, Churchill Way, Basingstoke, RG21 7QR. 01256 844244 anvilarts.org.uk
Words: Muddy Hants Editor, Mary Malyon.