Alban Arena, St Albans
2pm, 19 December 2015
When you’re singing the words “Captain Hook Me Up” to Uptown Funk and Max Branning’s doing the Cha Cha Cha, you know Christmas has begun!
Peter Pan at the Alban Arena appeals to all ages as a funny, adventured-packed, great looking show that – if you’ll pardon the pun – flew by.
And from the moment David Ribi as Peter flies over the audience and onto the stage, the audience was enthralled.
I’ve always been a bit wary of Peter Pan as a panto as I love a dame and there isn’t a natural dame in the story. Building the character in always seems a bit contrived and yes, it was in this production too, but deliciously so – and anyway – who cares when the legend that is Bob Golding is playing the role.
His dame, Mrs Smee was, like all his panto roles, a hilarious delight, absolutely perfect comic timing and an energy that carries the show along effortlessly. He also throws in liberal asides to mock the likes of Luton Town, Harpenden, Watford, and Stevenage – always a winner!
He was ably joined in comedic fun by another St Albans favourite, Ian Kirkby, who as Eric the overacting pirate, Beryl/Brian the transgender Indian and Myrtle the rather gruff mermaid – also provided a heck of a lot of laughs and his paring with Golding was a triumph.
Jake Wood was an excellent Captain Hook, gruff and menacing but with the hint of a good side in his wit to get the balance right. Numerous references to his role as the aforementioned Max Branning in EastEnders and a successful stint in Strictly, hence the cha cha, brought those topical gags that audiences love. And when he was on stage with Mrs Smee and Eric it brought some comedy gold moments.
David Ribi’s Peter Pan was the fine hero you’d expect and he handled the flying technique, sword fighting and all his other antics effortlessly.
Katrina Bryan was a mischievous and feisty Tinkerbell and what a fabulous singing voice, so powerful – who knew? She keeps that well under wraps in her CBeebies role as Nina in Nina and the Neurons. And her jealous rivalry with the charming but rather uptight Wendy, played by Abigail Poulton was another great pairing.
Evolution Pantomimes really do put on a good show – there was a great mix of songs from S Club Seven to the Osmonds, computer graphics to show the flight from London to Neverland as Peter and the Darlings fly through the air, well-drilled and choreographed dancers and kids – who play a variety of roles from Lost Boys to Indians and pirates – that aren’t annoying.
Plus – they actively encourage you to take pictures of Peter Pan’s last flight so you can have a lasting memory of the spectacle.
As a mixed group in the audience, from five-year-old to senior citizen – we all loved it!
I liked when Peter Pan flew from the sky because it was amazing.
I wasn’t very scared of Captain Hook because he was very funny.
I don’t like the book anymore because it’s great when live.
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes including a 20 minute interval.
Age range: All ages.
Other stuff: Programme £3.50. Various other annoying flashy things in the £4-£5 range.