It wouldn’t be the festive period if you didn’t have a good old-fashioned pantomime in the diary. Except, of course, there isn’t anything old-fashioned about a lesbian rewriting of the childhood classic Peter Pan.
Peta Pam is a production by Outhouse London and their lesbian Theatre Troupe, The Darlings. It presents the adventures of Peta Pam, Tink, the Lost Lesbians and the Darling children as they explore Well I Never Land in search of fun and excitement. Polished, the production is not. However, the writing is witty and the cast have bundles of energy which more than make up for the occasional forgotten line. In fact, in a production which continues to poke fun at lesbian culture, and therefore at itself, the odd slip up here and there adds to the relaxed atmosphere.
The production is showing in the Karamel Club in Wood Green, a bar come restaurant come venue space for live music and theatre productions. A warm and cosy atmosphere awaits, with affordable, decent food (I recommend the fish and chips – basic but satisfying) and friendly staff. The performance takes place in the restaurant area, so you are immediately greeted by the set when you arrive. It would certainly not be described as understated, has about as much festive sparkle as the space can handle and offers an indication of the performance to come; unsubtle, loud and full of fun.
After a brief intro from our narrators, we meet the Darling family as the kids get ready for bed, and Mrs Darling decides to head out for an all-female evening of red wine and vegetarian terrine – one of many references to lesbian stereotypes in the production which they manage to get away with. In Mrs Darling’s absence, Peta Pam makes her grand entrance along with the sparkly Tink. The scenes do blur together somewhat and at times it feels like there more people on stage than in the audience, but the general plot of the original Peter Pan is stuck to and the Darling children end up in Well I Never Land, followed by their panic stricken mother upon returning from the party.
What follows is a slight mish-mash of structure and plot, which may have been overlooked in favour of set, costume, and witty one-liners, but the cast are excellent at engaging with the audience. There are a couple of interesting hybrid accents and perhaps some projection issues, but somehow it all works. Pantomimes are certainly not supposed to be faultless pieces of ground-breaking theatre; but funny, colourful, even silly performances which leave you with that feel-good factor. Peta Pam most certainly delivers on that front.
It’s not every day you get to see a production by an all-lesbian cast, and even less often that such a production is a pantomime. Grab a couple of friends (all welcome and all will enjoy, not just lesbians), buy a ticket before they sell out, and settle in for a fun evening of decent food and wine, a few giggles and bags of festive spirit.