Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Panto at its best

Peter Pan

Hiss and Boo , Riverfront Newport , December 14, 2009
Peter Pan by Hiss and Boo Glitter, tinsel, nostalgia, and slapstick silliness. Yes, panto season is here again (Oh no it isn't etc).

Hiss and Boo have reshaped JM Barrie's classic Peter Pan into a seasonal jaunt for all age ages. While not structurally a natural choice for panto this adaption actually works pretty well, thanks to the help of the script put together by ex Russ Abbot Richard Gauntlett and director Ben Tyreman's familiarity with the genre. New additions to Barries script abound- Dames are drafted in, and parts for camp pirates written specially. All the ingredients for frolics are here, there is even a pantomime crocodile in place of the horse.

What Hiss and Boo Co do best is prove you don't need an ex celebrity family name in order to make a decent panto. Instead they compile very credible and committed talent and let the the production work on merit, rather then clinging to the coat tails of tired fame that would rather be elsewhere. In this way Newport panto costs a fraction of its cousins in Cardiff and Bristol while lacking nothing in terms of quality.

As for celebrity it is a credit to Brian Hibbard aka Captain Hook that he is remembered for more than being the Ex Flying Picket frontman (Only You still plays well though). He's a good jobbing actor and his villainous shenanigans always go down a storm in these parts.

Most of the other laughs were provided by Phyllip Harries and Francois Pandolfo, the latter playing bottom buddy for Harries's dame, a Deliah Smith in drag. Sarah Cortez played Tiger Lilly and surely pleased most of the dads with her performance. Both Wendy and Peter Pan ( Kate Rawson and Anna Campkin) were more than solid. Gillian Elisa was under-used in the cameo roles of a weirdly Welsh Indian Chief and a Bonnie Tyler on the rocks mermaid. At one point she led the cast in a version of Shout, most cymraegified, this was the biggest and best number the night. The young well disciplined chorus were drilled and choreographed throughout, a credit to Cortez.

While something of a chaotic jumble at times, this was panto at its best. I enjoyed this Peter Pan vastly more than the Hollywood version Hook- and there you have it. Hiss and Boo, better than Spielberg....you read it here first.

Reviewed by: Chris Paul

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