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The Haymarket and The Anvil - Peter Pan

14th December 2017 to 7th January 2018

Review from the British Theatre Guide.

Peter Pan at The Anvil in Basingstoke is a lavish, spectacular pantomime that has the audience ‘hooked’ from the very start. It is a vibrant, swashbuckling evening’s entertainment for all the family and the enthusiastic Basingstoke audience absolutely loved it.

This classic story of the boy who is determined not to grow up and lives with his gang of Lost Boys in Never Never Land is given a modern twist in director Pete Hillier’s vivacious, high-energy production.

There is oodles of audience participation, stunning sets and costumes, great special effects with pyrotechnics and some dashing sword fights in this high quality production.

Amanda Salmon is terrific as the roller-skating chav Tinkerbell who is always causing mischief, and Pete Hillier keeps the momentum moving as the cheerful Smee who quickly establishes a warm rapport with the audience.

The Darling family lives in a large house in London with the children looked after by their Nana, a loveable dog (Freddie Mason). The young children, confidently played by Reuben Overton as John and Benjamin Macken as Michael, are preparing for bed.

Zara Warren is the delightful Wendy who has trapped Peter’s shadow in the window and eventually travels to Never Never Land to be the Lost Boys’ mother.

There is some inspirational casting of Ben-Ryan Davies as Peter, whom many will know from his appearance in Waterloo Road. He perfectly captures the playfulness, cheekiness and the ‘spirit of adventure’ of the character in an enthusiastic convincing performance.

The flying sequences are truly magical as the children soar over the London skyline and Peter glides above the audience to the back of the theatre.

Gary Turner is very impressive as the evil Captain Hook, who deliciously deserves all the boos from the audience as he seeks revenge on poor Peter for losing his hand to the crocodile.

He is ably assisted by his motley pirate crew (Andy Rothwell, Paul Cox and Freddie Mason) who also give an outstanding, knockabout, acrobatic display.

Shireen Jordan is convincing as Tiger Lilly with her band of Indian squaws but she is captured by Hook and tied up in Mermaids Lagoon waiting for the tide to rise and drown her.

Peter rescues her with the help of the Welsh Mermaid, a lovely cameo performance by Julia J Nagle who also plays Mrs Darling.

There is some sterling choreography (Sarah Louise Day) with good support from The Basingstoke Academy of Dancing and Kelly Hopkins Theatre Arts, and The Lost Boys, too many to mention by name, were having great fun in their roles.

With some lively, well-chosen music under the direction of Martyn Cooper, this spirited Peter Pan is not to be missed. Highly recommended.


Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Truly traditional panto

Peter Pan, at The Anvil, Basingstoke, until Sunday, January 7

JM Barrie the author never really grew up. At least he tried not to and although he married relatively late in life, never had any children. So he wrote a book about Peter Pan, a little boy who never grew up.

In true pantomime tradition, Peter Pan was played by a girl, not a boy, and Jessica Punch had fun with her jokes and chatter and flying in through a window and across the stage. At one point she flew right out over the auditorium, high above us and disappeared somewhere at the back of the theatre. So although Peter Pan is perhaps not thought of in the list of top traditional pantos, this production was presented in true traditional style with the old routines in place, including the grinning person behind somebody not being seen; oh yes he was…

This production was, in the best sense, big, lavish, loud and very nearly lewd. It began with a great explosion of colour and sound; music filling the theatre and if there were only a very few musicians, with the help of electronics they sounded like a huge great orchestra.

Sarah Louise Day was a warm Mrs Darling and this actor was also the mermaid and choreographer for the show, producing some stunning dance sequences. Gary Turner was a sinister Captain Hook, in true panto style, of course, and there were bright, skilled performances by Helen Petrovna as Tinker Bell, Laura Harrison as Tiger Lily and Jenny Huxley-Golden as Wendy.

All parts were played with real gusto throughout, including Theatre For Kids and the JG Dance Troup. The pirate crew headed by Jack Horner produced a wild acrobatic routine. Andrew Agnew excelled as both Smee, general joker and comedian, linking most of the comedy sequences and song coordinator and as director he gave us a spectacular panto.

Captain Hook was offered a wooden leg as his Christmas present, but it wasn't his main one, just a stocking filler.

Well, panto jokes don't get better – they get worse though. The difference between a piano and a fish? You can tune a piano but you can't tuna fish, boom boom.

One point – the part of Nana the dog was played with lots of quaint movement and business, but not credited. He or she in the doggie costume should have had a credit; it was definitely a K9 performance.

All money paid to put on this show will go to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick children – as JM Barrie stipulated in his bequest.


There are reviews from The Stage ("one of the most pyrotechnically spectacular and high energy pantos I’ve seen... a thoroughly entertaining take on JM Barrie’s classic" - 4 stars), the Basingstoke Gazette ("it is an adventure like no other... a great modern adaptation... a fun filled night").