THEATRE REVIEW: Peter Pandmemic ★★★★

We all know and enjoy the story of Peter Pan and Wendy, with their journey to Neverland, but have you ever considered watching it as a Spranto? What’s that, you’re unfamiliar with what a spranto may be? Well it’s a Panto set in Spring of course, or so Mrs Darling tells us at the top of the show, for this is Peter Pandemic, the constant hilarious, full of energy, musical parody show currently playing at The Canal Cafe Cafe in London.

Starring Alex White, Josephine Rattigan, Ceris Hine, and Chris Fearn, these four artful performers never fail to make you laugh, with every plot moment extended to the extreme to milk every laugh possible; a moment which we as the audience are told to close our eyes to build our imagination and concealing the ‘magic’ happening on stage, will have you howling once hearing the commotion unfolding on stage. With White, Rattigan, and Hine doing most of the multi-roling on stage, it is up to the rather incredible Chris Fearn to provide the musical numbers from his trusty piano in the background of the set, with such clarity and respect, with is juxtapositioned with his minor speaking role of Micahel Darling, the young boy in the Peter Pan story, who here is given very little attention or respect, to much hilarity from the whole audience.

Speaking previously of those musical numbers, any musical theatre fan would feel at home during this production, as Ethel Mermaid (Yes, she’s a real mermaid), acts as our Broadway star, who longs to become a human again and entertain the crowds. Until then however, we are in awre of Ceris Hine, as she embodies this caricature with numbers from Funny Girl, Little Shop of Horrors, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Lion King, and so many more, to such a high standard. Rattigan and White also get to shine on stage with their musical talents, whether that’s a Kate Bush solo, or a Greatest Showman duet that has been given a revamp to suit these covid times.

Speaking of Covid times, the magic of audience participation is not lost on this show. Whilst we may have to interact with a much more sombre tone in our voices, we get to wave our hands, stomp our feet, and one lucky audience member even got to ring a bell whenever they saw performers getting a little too close to each other and disobeying the two metre rule, chosen by the rather raucous TinderBell. If I took anything away from this first Spranto experience, it’s that no matter what time of year this usual festive traditions are performed, the magic is very much still alive, with Ceris Hine and Brendan Matthew’s script installing constant belief and hilarity in a show that will stand the test of time, and where even in this current climate, you can still have a good old laugh from time to time, and feel like you can be whisked away from the real world to join our new friends in Neverland.


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