John O’Brien certainly enjoyed Peter Pan at the Richmond Theatre and here is what he has to say about it:-
As a Citizen Smith fan back in the 1970s it is a real thrill to see Wolfy (Robert Lindsay) after all these years as Captain James Hook. Robert Lindsay looks as fit and handsome as he did in his Freedom for Tooting days, he even manages to get a raised fist (that’s a raised Hook) and Cri de Coeur of Power to the People into this wonderful Christmas Panto. He is now a National Treasure and he brings all his charm and charisma into a quite magnificent portrayal of Captain Hook. Looking wonderful in his Pirate costume, hook and knee high boots he adopts a nonchalant haughty demeanour which combined with a supercilious posh tone of voice gives just the right blend of camp disdain and comic jauntiness.
He has three wonderful musical numbers. The first, a marvellous take on Fagin’s “You Gotta Pick A Pocket Or Two” which substitutes the word “Pirate” for “Pocket.” The second, a delightful routine with Mimi, the Magical Mermaid (the delightfully Cockney Rachel Stanley) which puns on the fish dish possibilities of getting his hook into her and the third is another Fagin number from Oliver Twist “Reviewing the Situation” in which Hook contemplates quitting the life of a pirate. “Can a pirate be a pirate all his life” asks Hook? Clearly revelling in the song’s rich associations with past theatrical greats, Lindsay touches his nose knowingly as he, on his knees, gives a funny, yet poignant rendition of this much loved song. Lindsay’s comic timing is superb. He looks lovingly at, strokes and kisses his hook as if it were a pussy cat. He flicks his hair constantly. He has persecution mania. When one of the three male dancers is behind him as they dance the rowing song on board the Jolly Roger (“I’ve been Jolly Rogering all day”) in the line up he swaps him for one of the girls. We get the point.
The rest of the cast are superb. So much so that this Peter Pan is top draw. Jon Clegg as Smee is sensational. His range of impressions is astonishing, Ant and Dec, Simon Cowell, Paul O’Grady, Michael McIntyre and especially Donald Trump. His insistence that Tinkerbell is not dead and that it is in fact fake news is very very funny. He even does the two fingers separating gesture as he does so. He is a natural when it comes to audience interaction. By the end of the evening he had the audience in the palm of his hand. He has a wonderful Tommy Cooper inspired routine in which he takes out biscuits from his shopping trolley and tells a story that involves virtually every brand of biscuits to be found on the shelves. It’s a tour de force of comic stage business that Tommy Cooper would’ve been proud of.
Smee leads the children in the shark song and Old McDonald Had a Farm with four children from the audience which is unbelievably funny. Asked what animals they liked they replied in order a wolf, a dolphin, a horse and a lamb. Harry Francis is a perfect Peter Pan full of energy and playfulness. I particularly enjoyed his Cossack like jumps about 12 in all! Isobel Hathaway on roller skates is a jealous Tinkerbell. This is understandable as she is up against Wendy (Vikki Bebb) who is practically perfect in every way. Tiger Lily is the gorgeous Keisha Marina Atwell who leads us singing and dancing through Neverland. The Crocodile makes the shark in Jaws look tame. It is seriously scary.
The sets are magical.
The music is wonderful.
I want to go again.
All photos are taken by Craig Sugden.