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Canterbury: Review of Peter Pan at the Marlowe Theatre starring Shaun Williamson, Wendi Peters and Ben Roddy

By Angela Cole

It’s not every day you hear a gag like “You butternut squash Bjorn Borg”, but then it’s not every day the Marlowe Theatre’s panto arrives in town.

It comes but once a year, but you’ll find yourself living off the jokes for some time afterwards.

With its winning formula of Evolution Productions, charismatic, crowd-pleasing dame Ben Roddy and comedian Lloyd Hollett, the pressure is really on each year to come up with something to top the previous year.

Lloyd Hollett and Ben Roddy get into the panto spirit at the Marlowe

Lloyd Hollett and Ben Roddy get into the panto spirit at the Marlowe

It’s a tall order but if anyone’s up to it, it’s this team – and audiences will be delighted to hear, with Peter Pan, they’ve delivered again.

Right from Peter Pan’s flying entrance over the heads of the audience, to the “spurious comedy routine” involving fruit and vegetables and the ghost gag with the historic Marlowe bench (circa 1986), they’ll have you clutching your sides as you laugh harder than you have for months.

Forget worrying about Christmas bills, work, traffic and anything else on your mind and head to the Marlowe to just laugh, sing, dance and clap for two and a half hours. And yes, they will get even the hardest pantogoers on their feet at atleast one point.

Samantha Dorrance as Wendy and David Ribi as Peter Pan

Samantha Dorrance as Wendy and David Ribi as Peter Pan

Panto across Kent this Christmas 

Dame Ben Roddy just needs to step on to the stage and the audience starts to chuckle – just wait ‘til he starts lunging. It’s the law, you know.

Lloyd Hollett was really on fire this year, with one joke which he claimed to be the best one this year, and I didn’t see anyone arguing.

Special effects seemed to have been ramped up, with lighting and screen effects adding to the overall show, plus a clever turning set for the Lost Boys’ home.

A really solid cast brought laughs, contemporary gags and straight-up old fashioned ad libs and giggles.

Former Coronation Street star Wendi Peters in Peter Pan

Former Coronation Street star Wendi Peters in Peter Pan

Faultless performances came from daring David Ribi as Peter Pan, who showed no fear as he somersaulted while flying; Gemma Hunt as Tiger Lily, Wendi Peters as Squatting Cow, Samantha Dorrance as Wendy and Jo Osmond as Tinkerbell.

Former EastEnder Shaun Williamson as Captain Hook clearly enjoyed his baddie role, though even he couldn’t resist joining in with a few quips here and there, and took the gags at his expense generously.

Former EastEnder Shaun Williamson as Captain Hook in the Marlowe Theatre's panto, Peter Pan

Former EastEnder Shaun Williamson as Captain Hook in the Marlowe Theatre's panto, Peter Pan

Mention has to be made of The Black Eagles acrobats whose antics were jaw-dropping and unexpected, to the Lost Boys and music, including the finale song which had everyone on their feet.

The show runs until Sunday, January 14. To book tickets visit marlowetheatre.com

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