Tuesday, 24 April 2018

?Fab-U-Lous? Hook makes for perfect Pan-to

CRAIG Revel Horwood may be a miserable curmudgeon as a Strictly Come Dancing judge but he’s a hoot

CRAIG Revel Horwood may be a miserable curmudgeon as a Strictly Come Dancing judge but he’s a hoot as Captain Hook in Peter Pan — a very camp Captain Hook.

He is, of course, “Fab-U-Lous”, “A-Maz-ing”, and all the other catchphrases he uses in Strictly — apart from “Disastrous, darling.”

But, he’s not the only reason to catch this show if you can, because it really is great — maybe not a 10 but easily an eight or even a nine.

There are very sexy dancers but nothing to scare the horses, some riotous gags, a few of them quite rude, and a really well told story — one that the children could follow with enthusiasm.

And Paul Burling’s Smee as Hook’s first mate is hilarious.



But it’s Craig Revel Horwood’s name above the title — that’s what will sell the tickets and he delivers in every way.

He clearly loves doing panto. He’s not just a name who’s picking up a few easy quid while sitting back on his fame.

He sings well, engages with the audience and the cast, and is professional enough to know his part thoroughly — that can’t always be said of some above-the-title panto stars.

Peter Pan is helped by having no dame to muddy the waters. The closest to it, in this show, is Revel Horwood — but while he’s camp, he’s not remotely dragged-up or feminised. He’s the baddie and he plays it like that. It helps that he’s a professional musical theatre man, unlike the reality TV stars so often foisted on us, so he knows his craft

We don’t see him until the show is 25 minutes old, but he’s ever present after that.

Those early scenes shoot through with some pacy songs and dancing and the introduction of Smee.

Paul Burling is a delight with some great improvisations, rude remarks and top class engagement with the audience.

This is another man who’s paid his dues, starting in the holiday camps and working his way onwards.

Peter Pan himself, played by Joe Sleight, is all that you’d hope for, as is Tinkerbell and the dangerously sexy Liberty Buckland as Tiger Lily.

So why not a 10? The structure, darling.

Sometimes the storytelling is broken up by Dawson Chance’s ventriloquist’s turn using his dummy, a turtle called Willy.

Inevitably this leads to a ton of double entendres around that name which this reviewer struggled to find funny.

And the obligatory singalong at the end seemed to come from another age. This used to serve the very useful function of giving the cast time to get changed into glittery wedding attire for the final walkdown and it did in this case — but there was no wedding and no need for a change.

That said, Paul Burling came out with a cracking one-liner as he interviewed a five-year-old on stage wearing the strip of his favourite football team — he dubbed him “Chelsea-Nil.”

That’ll do me.

Peter Pan is at the Wycombe Swan Theatre until Sunday, January 3.

Review: Mike Rowbottom



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