Review: Robinson Crusoe & the Caribbean Pirates at the Mayflower Theatre

A scene from Robinson Crusoe & the Caribbean Pirates.
A scene from Robinson Crusoe & the Caribbean Pirates.
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This year’s panto at the Mayflower Theatre may not have as many familiar faces as years gone by – but with Brian Conley on this kind of form, who needs a star-studded list?

The popular entertainer steals the show in Robinson Crusoe & the Caribbean Pirates in a performance that ticks all the boxes for top-class family entertainment.

At times, you could be forgiven for thinking you had been sent back to the 1990s when Conley hosted his own television show on ITV, as the Londoner – playing the lead role – is given the platform to sing, tell gags aplenty and interact with the audience in his own inimitable way.

As expected with Conley, the familiar line of ‘It’s a puppet’, is never far away, while familiar alter-egos such as Dangerous Brian make appearances, too.

The sense of nostalgia is welcome, though, as Robinson Crusoe stands out from your average pantomime by delivering laughs far more often than the usual one-liners.

Conley, who co-wrote the production, occasionally puts the storyline on the back burner to give the audience what they want the most – a bellyful of laughs.

But there’s plenty more on offer, with a toe-tapping mix of contemporary songs, gravity-defying dancing by the Mazeppa Cossacks and honourable supporting roles from the likes of Andrew Ryan, playing Mrs Crusoe.

Kids will also be dazzled by special effects including a flying car and giant monster in a panto which stands out from the rest.

Robinson Crusoe & the Caribbean Pirates is at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton. Until January 12.