Pantoland - Peter Duncan's Panto Online Review
Pantomimes are as much a part of Christmas as the decorations, the festive TV specials, and the roast dinner with all the trimmings. Up and down the country over the next month or so, audiences will be delighted with stories of fairy tales complete with popular music, outlandish costumes, big song, and dance numbers and plenty of audience interaction, and whilst theatres are now fully open again, Peter Duncan’s Panto Online will continue to provide at home entertainment this year.
Following the successes of ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Jack and The Beanstalk’, acclaimed actor, writer and director Peter Duncan (80’s Blue Peter presenter and former chief scout) creates a new story entitled ‘Pantoland’ for families, schools, and community groups to enjoy.
Taking the audience on a pantomime themed adventure through well-known tales such as ‘Aladdin’, ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Red Riding Hood’, Duncan combines classic pantomime jokes with puppetry, music, and the spirit of his ‘Duncan Dares’ show, all whilst playing the character of Dame Dolly Doughnut.
Whilst I feel that I was not the target audience of this piece, with its story that jumps around without a continuing plot, puppet characters and singalong songs, I can see how this would thoroughly entertain the younger audiences to which it is aimed. Even if it was pre-recorded (on one of the hottest days ever by the way), there are breaks in the action to allow the audience to respond and join in, something that feels a little odd to older audiences but effective for children.
The stories of ‘Aladdin’, ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Red Riding Hood’ are briefly but cleverly touched upon here, with the main bulk of the story being given to the new character of Alexis, played by Duncan’s son Arthur. The character dips in and out of the production with their story of adventure and invention as he sets out to help a very poor country that is under the rule of a dictator.
The action takes us from various sets scattered around a large garden to the riverbank and the countryside as Dame Dolly sets out on a staycation complete with paddle boarding and putting on shows for the local children.
Music and puppetry are used throughout from a song by Captain Hook about never having a mother to the panto classic sing along of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, and a lengthy puppetry scene with Alexis playing on the classic idea of the ‘village idiot’ being left to look after something important whislt there is a burglar on the loose.
Whilst many pantomimes seen in the flesh have jokes for both the children and the adults in the audience, you know the type of thing, jokes for the adults that float over the children’s heads and sight gags for the little ones, this production has its focus well and truly set on making something for young children. Adults may find it a little dragged out and just a little bit too over the top with the gaps for laughter and the blur of colours puppets.
The full cast for ‘Pantoland’ who join Peter Duncan include Tazmin-May Gebbett as Aladdin, Kevin Osborne as Smee, Peter D Humphrey as Captain Hook, Arthur Duncan as Alexis, Lucy-Jane Quinlan as Cinderella, Adam Price as the Great Dictator, Joss Vantyler as King Rat, Miguel Angel as Feather Boa, Ava Taylor-Knott as the weaving Witch, Lucy Heath as the Unicorn Queen, Chris Redburn as Captain Spurs and Julia Gale as Betty Boo.
Tickets to view ‘Pantoland’ are available here https://www.pantoonline.co.uk/ with family tickets for £10, or £15 if you would like to watch all three of Duncan’s Panto Online shows.
School ticket prices - £200/250
Group tickets prices - £75/100