Review: Peter Pan, Alhambra, Bradford

Billy Pearce as Smee and Charlie Hardwick as Mimi in Peter Pan at Bradford's Alhambra.
Billy Pearce as Smee and Charlie Hardwick as Mimi in Peter Pan at Bradford's Alhambra.
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“So I just had a few issues with the plot,” says eldest nephew on the way back from Bradford’s Peter Pan ably demonstrating why you should never take a teenager who has just forensically examined every scene of the new Star Wars film to the panto.

He’s right though there is no plot or at least not much of one, but it matters not because there’s Billy Pearce, there’s Darren Day, there’s a one-time Emmerdale actress and there’s a former member of S Club 7. That’s peak panto right there.

Jon Lee formerly of S Club 7 as Peter Pan.

Jon Lee formerly of S Club 7 as Peter Pan.

While Day, Charlie Hardwick and Jon Lee play their part as Captain Hook, Mimi the Magical Mermaid and Peter Pan, this is, as always, Pearce’s show. His humour may owe a large debt of gratitude to the 1970s, but if you can’t wallow in a little nostalgia at Christmas when can you? Plus he knows how to work a crowd.

Bradford throws a lot of money at its panto and it shows in the 3D sequence which has long given it the edge. This year is no different as it goes underwater for a Jaws inspired five minutes. Be warned though this is not for the faint hearted. The two young boys next to me were so paralysed by fear they couldn’t even take their glasses off.

This version of Peter Pan is camp, it’s ridiculous, but it is also packed with some genuine laugh out loud moments from Pearce’s own version of the Twelve Days of Christmas (five Yorkshire puddings… two football shirts, you get the idea) to Day striding out as a Hook in Cell Block Tango from Chicago. It ain’t Prince, it ain’t Bowie, but given the annus horribilis which has been 2016 it is just what we all need.

Darren Day as the villain Captain Hook.

Darren Day as the villain Captain Hook.

EXTRACT: A scene from Calyx.

Women lead way at Leeds’s own Phoenix Dance Theatre