Peter Pan | Review

Peter Pan | Review

Grand Opera House • Show runs until Sunday 14 January ’18

By Conor O’Neill

Few names make Northern Ireland’s ‘national treasure’ list. We’re not short on applicants but most of ours have a tendency to self-destruct. Thankfully some do make the grade. 65-year-old May McFettridge must surely be on the shortlist.

Last time I saw her I was in short-trousers and I was expecting the May McFettridge show with the odd reference to Peter Pan’s plot. Woah, thankfully I was proven wrong on so many levels. Yes’, she revels in her online put-downs, at times bringing unwanted smiles from the other cast members. But they recover quickly and if anything adds a little to the show.

On the way in we’re handed a set of 3-D glasses, necessary for after the interval, intriguing to say the least. Pan purists fear not, in as far as pantos go, the Grand Opera House’s doesn’t stray too far from the original. Director and executive producer, Jonathan Kiley knows tampering with a classic would be madness. Though McFettridge’s matriarch May Smee does get the best lines. Captain Hook (played by David Bedella) asks: “What scurvy ridden sea scum have we here?” Smee the elder’s reply: “Stormont.” Maybe some of the kids, and they were there in abundance, won’t have got the little political and more adult themed gags, but the parents loved them.

Hook: “I hate children!” Smee: “You shouldn’t have been a parent then, you should’ve been a teacher.” The kids got this one entirely. With Hook chasing the Smees, Peter Pan, Wendy, Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell, The Magical Mermaid all over NeverLand, the set is constantly changing. Oh, to be seeing this through the eyes of an 8-year-old! From Belfast’s rooftops, Peter’s underground home, the Jolly Roger’s deck and Crocodile Creek the set people certainly had their work cut out for them.

Claire King (Emmerdale’s Kim Tate) adds a bit of elegance to the evening. As too do Kweeva Garvey as Wendy, whose health is failing due to her stay in a magical world. Hollie O’Donoghue’s Tinker Bell proves she more than just a free-wheeling roller-booter and high-wire specialist and Natalie Winsor’s Tinker Bell is equally spell-binding.

Peter Pan is played by Mikey Jay-Heath and on first glance, the viewer would assume he is trapped in an adolescent body. Again the high wires are out as he and Captain Hook duke it out in the skies above NeverLand. Special mention for David Bedella, his Captain Hook is the yang to Claire King’s charming ying. And he does give May a run as he sports curlers. Belfast’s Paddy Jenkins as Smee adds yet another Belfast member to the cast and Paul Burling as Starkey get to air some of those impressions that so impressed the judges of Britain’s Got Talent. First and probably the last panto I’ll attend with Harry Hill’s voice getting an airing.

Special mention must also go to the multi-talented ensemble, not to mention the talented kids from McMaster Stage School: Good, clean(ish) Christmas fun.

And be warned, even adults had their hands covering their eyes when the 3-D section startled and amazed.

Top night out for kids of all ages. Peter Pan runs until Sunday 14 January. For booking info, times and prices phone the box office on: 02890 241919 or visit www.goh.co.uk

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