Former BBC TV Blue Peter daredevil presenter Peter Duncan is a tour de force in his one man show at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds displaying all his skills in the role of a pantomime dame returning to his northern roots.
His adeptness at bringing a smile and a song that melts the hearts of his audience is in abundance as he goes into “battle” every night for his shows.
“My armour, my war paint, the battle out there: it’s all I’ve ever known,” he says as he takes us through the lost word of seaside entertainment, piers and promenades … and his sometimes tough upbringing.
Memories of his mother and father come flooding back as he brings to life the seasoned pantomime dame Ronald Roy Humphrey as the curtain falls on the last show of the day.
And he is in a wistful, melancholic mood, but he reminisces on the ghosts and memories from the past which confront him with what he has spent his whole life trying to forget.
He takes the audience on a journey inside an entertainer’s mind to expose the fragile creature beneath the make-up, bluster and bravado.
The 70-minute play, which is written by his daughter Katie, is a wonder of joy and fun mixed with emotion and pathos.
There’s singing, comedy and even a role as a Punch and Judy entertainer, mixed in among the many skills of being a panto entertainer as he strips off his multi-coloured regalia and washes away the make up to reveal the soul underneath.
It continues at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds tonight (February 20) and is touring in Chesterfield and Basingstoke.