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The Marlowe Theatre’s Peter Pan-tomime!

Sara Kilian

Sara is the website culture editor at InQuire, and is also currently studying classics and archaeology at Kent. She loves literature, theatre and art.

Written by: Saga Radh, Sara Kilian, Maisie Lee, and Kiran Saggu

Pirates, vegetable jokes and Christmas cheer. The Marlowe’s Christmas Panto 2017 took us on a magical voyage to Neverland with their most recent production: Peter Pan. InQuire were invited to watch the show last night on its press night. The cast and crew put on a fantastic, two-hour show of pure magic and excitement, for children and adults to appreciate (as Gemma Hunt (Tiger Lily) neatly said: ‘it brings out the child in everyone…especially as it’s ‘Peter Pan’, which is about not wanting to grow up’). There was classic panto humour, brilliant comedy, cultural and social references and captivating stage effects. Afterwards, InQuire spoke to some of the celery-brities from the cast who brought us the magic after an impressive, and intense two week rehearsal period.


The performance was full of acrobatics and stunts by The Black Eagles; an acrobat group originally from Tanzania, who are now based in the UK. There were also a lot of technical work included, such as pyrotechnics and wires for flying around. We were curious to know what it was like to fly around over a 1200 people audience:

“Painful.” David Ribi, who plays Peter Pan, says. “We’re not in control of our movements when we’re in the air. I can’t take much responsibility for what I do.”

Tinkerbell, played by Welsh actress Jo Osmond thinks everyone should get to try some flying at least once in their lives:

“It’s not at all scary. I stunt double children for a living, and I’m not afraid of heights. I think it brings so much magic to the show. You just can’t have Peter Pan without flying.”

When we met with the director and writer of the show, Paul Hendy, he expressed some of his own thoughts about the pantomime:

“It is a wonderful thing to stage ‘Peter Pan’ at Marlowe, considering the uniqueness of pantomime. I am sure it will be a different theatre experience for a lot of audiences especially for those who haven’t experienced pantos in the past.”

We were hugely impressed by the quality of the performances and the special effects on stage. Hendy added, that the cast had a mere two weeks of rehearsals before opening night.

Since the actors have only two weeks to learn everything, we were curious to know whether there have been any improvisations. Ben Roddy, who plays Mrs Smee (the fat man in a dress), revealed the funny bits are improvised to some extent, but the cast is under a quite tight script. With so many puns to deliver there isn’t “mush-room” for improvisation.

Photography: Paul Clapp

Amid its silliness and humour, the pantomime alluded to an important contemporary discourse. “Girls shouldn’t be pirates.” Wendy says to Captain Hook. She also cooks and cleans for the Lost Boys. We wanted to hear from Wendy what it is like playing a character which encompasses such a stereotypical image of a girl. Playing the ‘Mother’ was in contrast to Tiger Lily, who at one instance in the play directly encouraged girls to be whatever they wish to be. Samantha Dorrance (Wendy) said that was a nice line in the show, which she was very pleased about.

The audience was full of very excited spectators who did not hesitate to shout out at the actors. We had to ask whether it is different acting on a pantomime compared to other productions.

“I actually like the interaction of the audience. It makes every show different” Gemma Haunt said. David Ribbi agreed, especially being Peter Pan as he gets a real boost from being cheered on by the audience. “Because I’m Peter Pan everyone wants you to win, so that’s a really nice feeling.” The musical numbers also augmented the excitement and audience participation. Ribi has already appeared in multiple West End productions, including ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Hairspray’. He added:

“I’ve always been a singer primarily. Musicals has been my career so far, and I think you get a lot of emotions through music.”

The cast agreed about just how special pantomimes are, in their association with this festive time of the year and with regards to the primarily young audiences. Jo Osmond said:

“At the end of the show [the children] wait outside, [and] honestly believe that I’m a fairy and want to be like me…it really makes their Christmas.” It is fantastic to see how much the cast enjoy performing for and interacting with their audience. David Ribi, also a presenter on Channel 5’s ‘Milkshake’, expressed how much he values working with children. Ben Roddy attributed the special nature of the pantomime to it often being “lots of people’s first introduction to theatre”.

Photography: Paul Clapp

Beetroot-o Christmas and visit the Marlowe pantomime! Tickets are almost sold out, so book yours now by following this link:








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