Peter Pan, The Anvil

9:48am Thursday 22nd December 2011

By Lorelei Reddin

FROM the moment the dastardly Captain made a spectacular X-Factor style entrance on stage, complete with beacons of fire, I was hooked.

Gary Turner is deliciously devilish as the hook-handed pirate and revels in each and every boo and hiss handed out by hundreds of delighted children.

It’s the perfect time of year to unleash your inner child and this festive feast of family fun gives you little choice.

The show is written, and held together, by Pete Hillier, the CBeebies and Boogie Beebies presenter who plays Smee. And he’s well aware that the young audience would be utterly enchanted by a little naughty mischief so this panto is packed with toilet humour, pranks and opportunities to pick your nose.

But there’s also plenty just for the Mums and Dads with topical references, nostalgic sing-a-longs and a smattering of smut and innuendo which fly right above the heads of the little ones, just like the loveable Ben-Ryan Davies – who strikes just the right note of boyish charm in the lead role.

Wendy (Zara Warren) and Shireen Jordan’s Tiger Lily put in captivating performances, their demure appearances in complete contrast to Amanda Salmon as Tinkerbell, a stroppy and slightly scary fairy chav.

Terrific acting and singing is not all you get from this little gem.

Nana the dog is a delight, the children, most notably John and Michael, perfectly capture the innocence of children thrust into Neverland, and there’s a wonderful gymnastics display from The Nitwits who impress as rather acrobatic pirates.

I was impressed by the lavish set, the fun-filled musical numbers and particularly the projected flight scene over London.

This is a spirited, high-octane and magical version of Peter Pan which will have you believing you can fly rather than wanting to walk the gang plank.

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