Turn of the screw

Peter Pan

11 December 13 words: Jared Wilson
The Hoff is in the house, and so are Su and Barney
David Hasselhoff as Captain Hook

David Hasselhoff as Captain Hook

Panto season is well upon us; that time when the hardcore thespians avoid the theatre for the month and, in their place, families pile in to have a gander at “him off the telleh”.

This year Theatre Royal has pulled out all the stops to bring us the most star-studded seasonal cast the city has seen in living memory. The main draw is Baywatch and Knight Rider veteran David Hasslehoff. He plays Captain Hook, a role he has now fulfilled for four years running in Manchester (2012), Bristol (2011) and London (2010) - so he ought to be pretty polished at it by now.

He’s also no stranger to taking the mickey out his public image, having starred as himself on the silver screen in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. This comes in handy when he’s fronting musical numbers like Hoff Around The Clock and basically satirising his entire body of television work for this performance.

Su Pollard as the Magical Mermaid

Su Pollard as the Magical Mermaid

Cast alongside him are local legend Su Pollard (who, for me, stole the show as the Magical Mermaid with more double entendres than you average Carry On movie) and CBBC stalwart Barney Harwood as Peter Pan. There are plenty of local references in the script too, with mentions for The Turf Tavern, The Market Bar and various other ‘Proper Nottingham’ stereotypes.

A notable high point is when Smee (played by Ben Nickless) reads his new work, a raunchy play on Fifty Shades of Grey which namechecks dozens and dozens of sweet and chocolate brands (“then he ripped off her Snickers” etc...). At another point he and his crew indulge their Captain Hasselhoff with a display of twerking.

Barney Harwood and Hannah Nicholas as Peter Pan and Wendy

Barney Harwood and Hannah Nicholas as Peter Pan and Wendy

Probably the most surprising thing for me about this production was the sheer number of ‘adult’ jokes they pack in. They’re all very amusing, but at least half the script is for the parents to guffaw at while their kids giggle along pretending they’re in on the joke. It’s harmless fun, but the more prudish adults reading this should be prepared.

All in all, this is a Christmas triumph for the Theatre Royal – as testified by the fact it’s led to record-breaking box office sales at the venue. For me, it felt like the start of Christmas. Tickets are only left in very limited numbers now, so if you want to see The Hoff up close then get involved asap.

Peter Pan runs until Sunday 12 January at the Theatre Royal. Call the box office on 0115 989 5555 or check the website for availability.

Theatre Royal website

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