JOYCE MCMILLAN on PETER PAN at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 13.12.14.
3 stars ***
CHANGE IS IN the air, at this year’s 50th Anniversary Glasgow King’s pantomime. It’s not only that the late, great Gerard Kelly has gone for ever. It’s that the generation who worked with him – including Gavin Mitchell of Still Game, who withdrew from this year’s panto after an injury – are also absent from this year’s show, replaced by a young cast who reveal varying aptitudes for the game, particularly in a story, based on J.M. Barrie’s great chldren’s play, that only fits roughly into the traditional panto format.
So here we have a brilliant, athletic Glasgow Peter Pan in Scott Fletcher. We have Alex Bourne as Captain Hook, stepping in at the last minute after Mitchell’s replacement also dropped out, and manfully plying his way through a routine of “Boaby” jokes specifically designed to refer to Mitchell’s Still Game character. And we have not one “daft laddie” but two, as the lovely Des Clarke plays Pirate Sharkey (“Hiya chums!”) and Greg McHugh alias Gary Tank Commander, a promising newcomer to the panto stage, pays an outrageously camp Smee.
There are spectaclar sets, a fine team of Lost Boys, and plenty of loud’n’raucous contemporary pop, accompanied by the kind of raunchy modern dance that always looks hilariously inappropriate in Victorian costume. And if the whole show seems more like a first try-out by a brand new team than a solid panto mix of newcomers and established stars, it still ends with a decent traditional song-sheet, an anniversary tribute to King’s stars of the past, and the Glasgow audience on its feet and dancing, as McHugh pronounces the whole evening not only “barry”, but “pure J. M. Barrie”!