It’s pretty obvious that writer and director Gareth Joyner really loves the art form we call panto. Not only from his previous shows at The RVT, The Two Brewers and here at Her Upstairs, or his performances in mainstream family pantos as a dame, but also from the love and respect for the genre that runs throughout this hilarious two hour show.
The opening number is the Madness classic, Our House performed by the relentlessly posh and enthusiastic Darling children, Wendy, played by Chloe Rose, John played by Louie Westwood and Joseph Lycett-Barnes as Michael… in a fairly unforgettable costume. Mr Darling is played by Jim Lavender, ‘Nana’s gone to live on a farm’ and Mrs Darling by Myra DuBois, ‘we had her put down’, who in the best panto tradition is also playing the deliciously evil Captain Shook, a woman who could give Delores Umbridge a run for her money in the morality stakes. Jim is also playing Smee, her trusty pirate sidekick, who really acts as the narrator of the piece and gives a fantastically physical comedy performance throughout.
Sooz Kempner is great as the self-centered and sexually obsessed title character, a hilarious twist on the ‘boy who refuses to grow up’. We also meet Tiger Billy, the last remaining indigenous person in Neverland, and total bottom, played nicely by George Bull and finally there’s Cheryl Hole as Skankerbell, who manages to steal most of the scenes she’s in, just by the shake of her fairy bells and no dialogue. It’s a lovely comic turn by Cheryl that had the crowd in fits. Everything you could want in a summer panto is here, including audience participation, running gags and many other pantomime standards, but thankfully no mention of Christmas. There’s loads of songs, all helped along by musical director Greg Reid including a lullaby version of Ace of Spades by Motorhead, Captain Shook’s version of No Bad News from The Wiz, a rousing This Is Me, I’m Going Home from Rocky Horror, delivered by Captain Shook in true Myra style and an fantastic Defying Gravity, where the whole cast, but especially Sooz and Chole get to show off their impressive vocal chops.
The show is very well paced, nothing drags and the jokes come thick and fast. Gareth has written another great script and there’s real joy and energy from this young cast, they were clearly having just as much fun as we were. Treat yourself it’s only on till Friday.
Peter Pansexual is at Her Upstairs, 18 Kentish Town Road
NW1 9NX. Tickets from outsavvy.com