STRICTLY COME DANCING JUDGE
Peter Pan - Craig Revel Horwood fab-u-lous as Captain Hook in Peter Pan19th Dec 2014
When Dustin Hoffman played the eponymous villain in Hook opposite the late Robin Williams, he earned plaudits for his outrageously camp portrayal of the dastardly seaman.
No prizes then for guessing the fab-u-lous angle Strictly Come Dancing grumpous Craig Revel Horwood was going to take in the swashbuckling pantomime at the Orchard Theatre.
What was a surprise was the way he dragged this frantic production up by its bootstraps into a sparkling razzle-dazzle with more sequins and feather boas than Bruno Tonioli on a hen do in Croydon.
Panto is primarily about the experience so any confusion was forgiven for introducing random characters whose only purpose was to clear the path for an actor to carry out their particular skill.
Hence the creation of toilet-humour-loving Starkey, played by ventriloquist Dawson Chance, who was a sidekick of, err, sidekick Smee, played by Paul Burling.
His cameos with various puppet animals got plenty of laughs, even if they did lower the tone (“I’ve lost my willy” he cried as he tried to find his turtle called, well, Willy).
The consequence was less stage time for Paul Burling, who seemed stifled. He needed more time to perform the array of impressions which got him to the final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2010.
He made up for it with plenty of gags at the expense of towns in the surrounding area, which were something of a crowdpleaser until it was the turn of Dartford FC (“I emphasise the FC because most people think their second name is nil” derided Revel Horwood to gleeful boos).
The show was often at its best when it was falling apart, with Burling getting one of his biggest laughs when he thanked James Patterson, playing John, who lent a helping hand when he forgot some of his lines.
The producers clearly felt the need to include something for the dads, judging by the various scantiliy-clad dancing Indians, pirates and showgirls throughout the show.
The saving grace was the fact Craig Revel Horwood can sing. Like, really sing. In fact, all the cast nailed their songs.
Rachel Spry, who played the Magical Mermaid, deserves praise for some soaring vocals and an amusing duet with the show’s leading man but the best was undoubtedly Revel Horwood’s final showstopper, which showed off every ounce of his showbusiness pedigree.
It’s Christmas. It’s panto. What’s not to like daahhr-ling?
Review by Chris Price, Kent Online