Review: David Suchet hooks the audience in Peter Pan at the Bristol Hippodrome

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Poirot star David Suchet and Steps singer Faye Tozer star in a pantomime reworking of the classic tale

His acting career on stage and screen might span seven decades but this is the first panto role for 77-year-old Sir David Suchet and he’s clearly loving every moment.

Best known as the iconic Agatha Christie TV detective Hercule Poirot, a role he played for 24 years, his career has included heavyweight theatre and Hollywood blockbusters but he seems to be relishing the chance to shout ‘oh, yes it is’ at the packed Bristol Hippodrome audiences.

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Suchet is playing panto villain Captain Hook in Crossroads Pantomimes’ production of the JM Barrie story and it’s a show sprinkled with plenty of fairy dust and impressive high-wire flying from Peter Pan (Hugo Rolland) and Tinker Bell (Carly Joan Furlong).

Panto perennial Andy Ford is back as Smee, much to the delight of people who have seen any of his previous ten panto appearances at the Hippodrome. 

In some ways, Ford has become as much a part of Christmas as tins of Quality Street and a bottle of Baileys. It wouldn’t be the same without him, even if some of the gags may seem familiar - not that I don’t laugh at them again each year.

In her shimmering mermaid outfit, former Steps star Faye Tozer showed that she’s as good a dancer as a singer and the audience loved her version of her band’s 1998 number one hit Tragedy.

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Of course, no Bristol panto would be complete without a few tongue-in-cheek local references and the script was peppered with them. Bedminster, Swindon, Lawrence Weston, Redcliffe, Nailsea and Weston-super-Mare were all mentioned, not all favourably.

After seemingly being swallowed up by a huge animatronic crocodile that suddenly appeared in the orchestra pit, Suchet reappeared in the second half as his famous Poirot alter-ego, much to the delight of older audience members, although the significance of seeing such an iconic TV character on stage was probably lost on the younger children and even their parents.

Ceri Dupree, David Suchet and Andy Ford on stage at Bristol HippodromeCeri Dupree, David Suchet and Andy Ford on stage at Bristol Hippodrome
Ceri Dupree, David Suchet and Andy Ford on stage at Bristol Hippodrome | Mark Dawson

But for me, the highlight of this colourful and entertaining family show was veteran drag artist Ceri Dupree, especially when he appeared as Cher complete with a huge black wig and revealing body suit.

At two hours including an interval, this is a fast-paced show packed with dazzling costumes and plenty of Christmas sparkle in Neverland.

Like David Suchet’s oversized pirate hand, this is a pantomime that will have you hooked from the outset.

Peter Pan is at Bristol Hippodrome until December 31 and tickets can be bought here.

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