There’s a lot of pressure on a panto. For many families – ours included – a trip to the pantomime is as crucial to our Christmas as hanging out the dodgy decorations the kids made at nursery and playing Mariah on loop from the first of December (someone, please make her stop). So when we head off on our annual panto pilgrimage – especially when it’s York Theatre Royal, the home of so many happy festive memories – our expectations are high. We want stocking-loads of laughter, songs by the sleigh-load and maybe even a storyline we can follow. And what with the triumph of last year’s Cinderella, it’s fair to say that this year’s All New Adventures of Peter Pan had a lot to live up to.
Well, here’s the good news – it’s a cracking show. I can’t be sure whether it was the Tinkerbellini cocktail we treated ourselves to from the bar (adults only, obviously), but no sooner had the curtain gone up than the all-important pantomime tingle returned.
Toe-tapping musical numbers? Tick! Impressive all-star cast? Tick! Sparkling costumes? Tick! Adventure? Tick! Terrible jokes galore? Tick tick tick! Peter Pan is a swashbuckling, back-flipping, joyful romp that will please the whole family. Younger children will adore Maddie Moate’s twinkling Tinkerbell and Faye Campbell’s charming Elizabeth, but there’s a lot for older audience members to enjoy too, especially the performances of Paul Hawkyard and Robin Simpson, arguably the funniest panto duo in town. Jason Battersby’s Peter soars – literally and metaphorically – as the lead, and Jonny Weldon’s hilarious Smee has some of the best lines (and one-liners). Our 10-year-old companions gave it a ten out of ten.
With a 2.5-hour running time, it’s the gift that keeps on giving: there’s acrobatics, fire limbo and flying. Lots of flying. On the way home, we couldn’t agree on the best bit because there were so many, from hilarious mishaps with the flying wires to a gorgeous scene where Peter and Elizabeth take to the air and glide across London and beyond to Neverland. For kids and grown-ups (and those who think they’ll never grow up), All New Adventures of Peter Pan is the perfect panto this Christmas.
All New Adventures of Peter Pan runs at York Theatre Royal until 2nd January 2023 – Visit the York Theatre Royal website for details and to book