Yesterday I took Jamie for his annual treat to the panto. It was Peter Pan at the Wimbledon Theatre and by general consent not as good as previous years.
The best thing about it was the dancing of the troupe Flawless but this had little to do with the main story. Indeed one of my critiques was the show was detached from the point of Peter Pan, namely that he wants to hang onto his youthfulness at all cost. The character upon whom JM Barrie based Peter Pan was a cousin of Daphne du Maurier who tragically took his own life under a tube train at Sloane Square in the early sixties.
Of the cast Marcus Brigstocke was excellent as a Captain Hook, a dark role he performed in the style of Alan Rickman, but I was less impressed by Jarrid Christmas as the hapless Mr Smee who played it as the panto joker. The jokes were cheesy and I am surprised one, viz.
“Have you ever had a parrot?”
“No but I’ve had a a cockatoo”
ever made it in.
Verne Troyer, at two foot eight inches, must be the smallest actor to appear in anything. I did not feel entirely comfortable as I thought there was an element of the circus freak here. If you factor in too that the Wimbledon Theatre is one of those old, poorly-ventilated theatres then it was not the most comfortable of experiences. At its best, like an early Spielberg film, panto should please adult and child alike. Jamie seemed to enjoy himself but in the past he would be on his feet, declaiming “Oh no he isn’t/he is behind you” but he was not alone in a more muted audience response. Nonetheless panto is an excellent introduction to the theatre for a young person. It’s a theatrical tradition particular to Britain, now 300 years old, part of our Xmas calendar which here played to a full house. If this was not up to the standard of others, it will be an annual trip I will be maintaining.