REVIEW: Peter Pan - The Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Steve Royle (Smee), Jordan Lee Davies (Peter Pan), Tom Lister (Captain Hook) and Hayley Kay (Mrs Darling).
Steve Royle (Smee), Jordan Lee Davies (Peter Pan), Tom Lister (Captain Hook) and Hayley Kay (Mrs Darling).
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From the moment Steve Royle literally drops back into his comedy character, all the way through to Jordan Lee Davies’s final ascent – in the title role – towards the Grand’s rococo ceiling, this is a show with a single-minded dedication to raising a laugh.

It’s uproarious pantomime from start to finish, as ribald or as risqué as your age group demands.

To achieve that it lets every one of the cast in on the joke, with the laugh lines spread evenly throughout.

So one-time Emmerdale bad boy Tom Lister revels in his punning Captain Hook – even earning hearty booing in his dual role of Mr Darling, which must be a first?

Likewise Radio Wave’s Hayley Kay laps up her one-liners as Mrs Darling and Mermaid, while Lee Davies suggests a nice-but-dim Pan.

It’s a confident performance that shows the former Voice contestant has broader talents.

Andrew Ryan’s script is sharp and original throughout but with enough leeway to allow Steve Royle to go ‘off-road’ wherever he likes.

Like many an accomplished comedian he has a matching acting ability, knowing when to react, corpse and improvise.

Charming and cheeky simultaneously – especially when he recruits four youngsters from the audience.

This year his juggling skills are limited to mops, buckets and cutlasses but there’s also plenty of physical thrills from a Nitwits pirate crew of Chris Gage, Tristan Adams and Alex Tucker.

Their acrobatic showcase (again played for laughs) is tucked in near the end of the show but you suspect that’s simply because director Simon Rawlings has packed so much more in elsewhere.

There are topical nods to TV quiz shows, current dance and song crazes, and an hilarious X Factor-style build-up to Hook’s first entrance.

There’s also a well-drilled corps of youngsters from the Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre.

Even the one or two rough edges on opening night become part of the charm of a show eager to please on so many levels – especially when it first lifts its hero high above the audience.

Catch it at The Grand before January 5.

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