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Review: The Dame, at Park Theatre

Ex-Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan’s turn as a panto dame is a tour de force in play written by his daughter

10 January, 2019 — By Michael Stewart

Peter Duncan in The Dame. Photo: Robert Workman

PANTO dame Ronald Roy Humphrey bursts into the reality of the Park stage after coming from his fantasy world of end-of-the-pier campery and lays siege to the audience.

His make up is his “warpaint” and his costume his “armour”, this “warrior” is a cross between a camp Christmas tree and the spire of Salisbury Cathedral. He soon launches into a few blue jokes at the expense of some red-faced men in the audience.

Alarm bells went up at this point, thinking I was in for an onslaught of Julian Clary-type smutty innuendo.

Mercifully we are spared that and the play then takes off into the realms of the joyful and the very dark as we are taken on a journey into his often murky “tears of a clown” life. As he peels off his make-up he reveals more and more of his soul, a soul that has been painfully forged by frequent battering from his father.

Ex-Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan’s turn as the Dame is a tour de force (and farce) as he throws himself around the stage delirious with joy one moment, wallowing in despair the next.

Written especially for him by his daughter, Katie Duncan, it certainly showcases his range both physically and emotionally. He knows about this world as his parents were music hall performers and we get booze-fuelled reminiscences of past greats such as Dan Leno and George Robey to eke out the atmosphere.

Nearby resident Jeremy Corbyn was in the audience on press night. Any resonances here with the shenanigans in today’s Brexit-battered Parliament, I wonder?

Until January 26
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