After one of the most hilarious nights of my life, I’ve learned two things. Firstly, you’re never too old for a pantomime; and secondly, David Hasselhoff is bloody fantastic. I will follow this with some advice though, so be patient.
Ushered into a theatre full of screaming children, my hopes weren’t particularly high; nor were they boosted by the tame, slow introduction. Barney Harwood, our beloved childhood CBBC presenter won the hearts of the children with his portrayal of Peter Pan as expected, as did his co-star Hannah Nicholas (Wendy). I was somewhat disheartened at having lost my ability to be so easily amused. I feared what I had let myself in for.
However, with a flash and a bang (literally) the show suddenly picked up as we arrived in Neverland, with Nottingham’s very own Su Pollard as the most fabulous mermaid I’ve ever seen, bringing forth the pure cheese we all secretly love and expect from a pantomime. It was thanks to Pollard that our cringingly perfect good guys loosened up, as even they couldn’t help corpsing in her presence.
Very quickly, we learned that Peter and his bizarre troop of buddies intended to save Neverland from the dastardly pirates, led onto stage by the wonderful comedy antics of Ben Nickless as Mr Smee. Bringing impersonations of the likes of Louis Spence, Joe Pascquale and a surprisingly adult humour, the performance continued to be top quality from this point on, only improved further by the entrance of Mr Hasselhoff, or Captain Hoff the Hook.
Whoever casted David for this role needs to be knighted; never have I seen an entire theatre erupt with laughter the way it did in the Theatre Royal tonight. His ability to mock himself can’t be taught and the dedicated references to his amusing career truly made him the star of the show. Hasselhoff’s shining moment had to be when he was confronted by Mr Smee dressed as Pamela Anderson, with singing, moving breasts; even when falling about laughing himself, he somehow managed to remain in character, making the entire scene unforgettable.
By the end of the show, the dancers uncomfortably sexualised for a young audience and the naff sing-a-longs were all accepted as part of the unmissable parcel that was the Peter Pan pantomime. Rounded off with Hoff-esque versions of some disco classics from the Hoff himself, the finale was a perfect end to such a fantastic evening.
No matter what age you are, Peter Pan is an absolute must-see. You are very quickly reminded that pantomimes are tacky, but David Hasselhoff as Captain Hook is the most absurd yet amazing thing you will ever see, and will make your day and quite possibly your life infinitely better within seconds.