Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings


Rachael Louise Pickard as Peter Pan and Ruth Holland as Tinkerbell

Peter Pan

Hall Green Little Theatre


This is an awfully big adventure as Peter Pan might have it as Hall Green eschew the traditional panto fare, oh yes they do, in favour of a home grown version of J M Barrie’s tale of the boy who doesn’t want to grow up.

It’s home grown from the pen of theatre regular Richard Scott, producing the words rather than saying them this time around.

It might not be panto but it has enough behind yous, oh yes it does, oh no it doesn’ts and encouragements to join in to keep the decibel levels from the audience of youngsters to jumbo jet engine at full throttle levels.

And that is where Hall Green scores year after year with a panto – or, in the case of this year, Peter Pan, which is not a panto, honest – whatever, it is, it is something which small children adore. The stories are simple with well defined and not really scary baddies and easy to recognise, under threat(ish) goodies, so the audience of youngsters know who to boo and who to cheer for, which they do loudly at every opportunity.

That’s what they come for, the booing, cheering, audience participation, the delight of theatre. It is not Shakespeare, or Miller or Wilde, but who knows, that night of delightful daftness could be the key that opens the door to a lifetime love affair with the stage.


Sammy Lees as John, Lauren Rote as Wendy and Emily Beaton as Michael

Here we open with Joel Patel as Captain Hook, who sets the tone by calling the audience ugly – cue boos – kist to let them know he is a baddy, and a baddy in a rather flashy costume£

Just so we know what is going on we then get the narrators Beth Flint and Alice Abrahall with a book the size of a small village.

And that brings in Mrs Darling, played by Benjamin Hurd-Greenall, and, yes, he is a bloke, but as they say in South Pacific, there is nothing like a dame, which is true whichever way you look at it as he adds that panto essential to the mix, along with his . . .sorry, her children.

We have the demure Lauren Rote as Wendy, the sensible one and Emily Beaton as the shy, silent one Michael, who only speaks after being persuaded to do so by ever louder shouts from the audience.

Finally there is Sammy Lees as John, totally exhausting John, just watching him leaves you needing a rest. Even standing still Lees is moving and he brings a sort of life and electricity to the production with his own brand of hyperactive urgency. Every production he has been in is 100 mph and 100 per cent. You can feel that ripple of anticipation whenever he appears as the children know they will be needed for a shout, or a cheer or a boo. He’s their big mate on stage and they know it.

To complete the Darling Family we have Nana the dog, or in this case, Sonya Jackson in face make-up, who magically is able to speak in Neverland – and is none too chuffed at what is going on.

Meanwhile, direct from Neverland, enters Pater Pan in the shape of Hall Green reliable regular Rachael Louise Pickard who brings plenty of experience to the role with her easy charm and delightful manner.


Then, as this is a fairy story, how about a fairy, and a green one at that, with Ruth Holland as Tinkerbell, complete with sparkly wand and once we fly off to Neverland we will come across Tiger Lily, a sort of native American princess, played by Renee Davis. She gets captured by the pirates so has to be released by Peter Pan who arrives as. . . oh, just go along and see for yourself.

So with the main characters in place, pantomime villain Hook can assemble his motley crew of pirates, under his loyal (maybe?) lieutenant, Smee (Maisie Leigh Jones) while the Darlings meet Peter’s lost ones, a rag bag of lost children found in the Hall Green Youth Theatre.

Throw in a pantomime crocodile, sword fights a plenty, including a rather messy confusing one in act 2, a sing song contest and a reformed hook and there is enough going on to shake a . . . hook at (hook designed by Ceri Sian)

Director Daniel Beaton keeps things moving at a cracking pace and cleverly uses the side doors and aisles to bring the cast closer to the audience, which young children love, one little girl saying goodbye to each character as they left at one point.

Assistant director and musical director Richard Woodward has provided incidental music and some catchy songs while Gillian Pickard, Melanie Patel, Stella Patel, Freddie Remmington and Louise Price have done a splendid job on costumes.

If there was a fault it lay with dialogue which was often lost, at times, through too quiet delivery and that was even without taking into account the constant background noise of the chatter and oohs and aahs of an excited child audience. So, if the cast are encouraged and cajoled to speak up and speak out, as they surely will be, the result will be a fun, not a pantomime, oh no it isn’t, to delight youngsters to 16-12-23 and Christmas oast Pan will return 04-06 Jan 2024.

Roger Clarke


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