Arts: Pantomime: Mother Goose stays fresh, but Peter Pan shows his age


THE NOTION of familiarity breeding contempt tends to get rather turned on its head when it comes to pantomime; it's in attempting anything other than the formulaic that the risk of audience antipathy lies.

No such chances have been taken at the King's, where an array of well- known local faces, headed by seasonal regulars Gerard Kelly and Barbara Rafferty, are serving up the full festive experience with all the trimmings. Well, nearly all - with no Dame or Principal Boy, the customary element of gender- bending is absent from the menu, but everything else is present and correct: a glamorously malevolent baddie, in Maureen Beattie's Dragonara, attracting the requisite boo-hiss quotient, a beleaguered heroine, a pair of clod-hopping secondary villains, a tussle between good and evil, a love-story or two, and the threat that all the children in the audience will meet with an unspeakable fate if the wrong 'uns triumph.

Together with plentiful cringe-making puns (largely on an eggy theme), dollops of slapstick and audience participation, and truckloads of camped- up glitz lavished on both costumes and sets, it all makes for an enjoyably sprightly foray into panto-world, ripe as Parmesan and cosy as Christmas itself, if a little too long at pushing three hours. References to The Phantom Menace, Austin Powers, and Kelly's notorious alter ego in Brookside, Callum Finnegan - an arresting contrast with his enthusiastic performance here as Mother Goose's scallywag son, Gussie - plus a succession of Top of the Pops-style routines from a lissom posse of dancers, add just enough freshness to remind us what year we're in, without disturbing the essentially timeless atmosphere.

A bit more timelessness wouldn't go amiss over at the Lyceum, where Stuart Paterson has added his usually magic touch to J M Barrie's classic fairy- tale. It may be verging on sacrilege to take issue with Peter Pan, but in this production at least, there's just a touch too much nannies-and- nurseries Edwardian middle-class prissiness (or is it just privilege?) underlying aspects of the tale to quite wash in 1999, especially surrounded by an audience of local schoolkids.

The central notion of what a mother represents, for example, is enacted in glaringly dated terms (though there's a nod to the travails of modern fatherhood in Robin Sneller's portrayal of Mr Darling), while the romantic innocence intended in Barrie's dialogue sometimes comes across as wide- eyed preciousness.

These problems are rendered more apparent by the slight bumpiness that besets the production as a whole in terms of its narrative flow. Having the Lost Boys doubling as the pirates creates considerable confusion in several scenes where the two are supposed to meet, while the story's climactic moments too often seem scrambled or stumbled over. Captain Hook needs to be a good bit scarier, too.

Visually, director Gregory Smith's convincingly magical set and costumes provide substantial compensation, and the flying sequences elicited plenty of oohs and aahs, while among a generally strong cast, Stuart Wilkinson as Peter successfully conveyed his character's darker, ambivalent quality - forever young and carefree, but fundamentally lost and lonely. Overall, though, not one of the Lyceum's vintage festive offerings.

Mother Goose, until 22 Jan, 0141 287 5511; Peter Pan, until 8 Jan, 0131 248 4848

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'