I wish I was still a kid. The little ones are so full of energy and unforced optimism, it’s easy to cause a certain cynical adult to look at himself and think “what the hell went wrong”.
The ticket to Peter Pan at Greenwich Theatre was offered in the knowledge that school children would make up the majority of the audience, it being a 2pm week day showing.
The miserable adult in me was apprehensive, not knowing whether I could take a theatre full of screaming, singing and dancing children.
But once the lights dimmed and the music began, the Christmas pantomime magic dispelled all clouds of pessimism and I embraced the atmosphere, laughing at how much the youngsters were getting into it.
This is the 12th panto writer and director Andrew Pollard has been involved with at Greenwich Theatre and the reason for his success and longevity is apparent: he understands what makes a good pantomime.
The man is a genius comedy writer and uses the modern London setting to great effect, as Wendy’s great-great granddaughter begins the play working as a fish packer on the Docks, some years after the original tale concluded.
The story leads to a number of comic references to local institutions and landmarks including Charlton Athletic, City Cruises and the Cutty Sark.
And both the music and jokes cater for both adults and children, with songs like Aerosmith’s Walk This Way, Chesney Hawkes’ The One And Only and History by One Direction.
Peter Pan (Rory Maguire) and Wendy (Louise Young) make for charismatic leading stars, while Krystal Dockery’s Tinkerbell is a bundle of fun.
On the bad side, Anthony Spargo’s Hook is the perfect pantomime villain with the stereotypical posh bad-guy English accent.
He and his lovable partner in crime Smee (Sackie Osakovnor) provide most of the laughter, along with Andrew’s fetching dame Long Joan Silver, with no expense spared on her extensive wardrobe.
And in true panto fashion, the props and sets were amazingly over the top. Peter Pan even flies with the aid of a barely visible and skilfully operated harness.
The only real criticism are a couple of sound issues. Sometimes the decibel-level of the music would make it impossible to hear what the characters were saying.
Despite this rare occurrence, the overall experience was a showcase of jubilance and optimism, with a strong message about embracing imagination.
It might not be a subtle telling of a deep and complicated tale but that’s not what pantomimes are about.
As Andrew understands all too well, perhaps better than anyone, the objective of pantos, while by no mean easy to achieve, is more simplistic.
It’s about making sure the audience has a good time - the Christmas spirit. They are meant to be silly things that get children laughing and dancing and get grown-ups feeling like kids again.
As I witnessed the spectacle both on and off stage, all remnants of brooding cynicism melted away and I was left feeling like my seven-year-old self again.
That was proof Peter Pan: A New Adventure achieved what it set out to do and that was why, as the cloud of adulthood returned after leaving the theatre, I was left looking back on the joy I felt thinking: “I wish I was still a kid.”
Peter Pan: A New Adventure runs from Friday, November 18 to Sunday, January 8, with tickets £29 for adults and half price for children.
Follow The Wharf on Twitter @the_wharf
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook