Everyone knows the story of the child who didn’t grow up. Peter Pan loses his shadow one night while visiting a London home and Wendy Darling is able to reattach it. In return, she and her brothers Michael and John are invited to Neverland. Here they run into awfully big adventures with Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily and Captain Hook.
In the current production, JM Barry’s classic tale has been reimagined by Sally Cookson. Co-produced with National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic, it is pantomime in style. It does a good job of keeping to the story of Pan whilst putting its own twist, for example, the Lost Boys are more traumatised then mischievous.
There were great performances by the all-adult cast. Daisy Maywood’s Wendy is a strong, self-determined female which contrasts with John Pfumojena’s boisterous yet naive and insecure Peter. Shive Rabheru plays a male Tinkerbell who is angry and speaks in another language. Each of the Lost Boys have their own personality which was lovely to see. Kelly Price transforms wonderfully from Mrs Darling into the menacing Captain Hook. Price embraces the villainous and comical nature of her character and has a powerful voice.
This interpretation of a female Hook gives a different dynamic to the ‘loving mother’ theme we are used to in most interpretations. Interesting, JM Barrie’s first idea of the original stage production was to have Hook played by a woman as the loving mother who doubles as the villain fits with one of his original working titles ‘Peter Pan or the Boy Who Hated Mothers’ given his mother closed the window on Peter so he could not return home. This theme is also shown when Wendy herself is a Mother and when Peter, left by the Lost Boys, curls up like a baby and drinks from a baby bottle.
Michael Vale’s Neverland has a contemporary, grungy feel while exposed poles, ladders and height give it an industrial feel. Katie Skye’s costumes are brilliant with contrasting colours and styles- the Darlin children in pyjamas, the Lost Boys in knitwear, Tinkerbell having white wings on a safety harness, and Hook in an older fashioned black and purple dress. The musicians under Benji Bower’s direction perform prior to the performance and become Lost Boys in some scenes. The music also has a contemporary upbeat feel to fit with the stage design.
The flying sequences were some of the best parts of the show. Little kids and big kids at heart were able to wave at Peter as he flew over us. The safety harnesses and human counterweights on the side are seen but that does not detract from the magic. When they are flying away from the Darling home simple placards are hard to represent roofs and windows, as the bed raises up, but it’s a heart-warming scene. The puppetry of the crocodile- made by several pieces of corrugated iron held by cast members- conveyed its sinister nature. It was wonderful to see all the audience members around us clap and shout ‘we believe in fairies’.
Peter Pan is recommended as being for children over seven. The run time is 2 hours and 30 minutes including 20 minute intermission. So it would depend on your little one’s attention span particularly as the story starts slowly and can become episodic, and this perhaps can be tightened to keep the pace.
Overall Peter Pan heart-warming play filled with fun, mischief, adventure and lets us believe again in magic. So go and get set for an awfully big adventure.
Peter Pan is performing at the new Troubadour Theatre White City, locates minutes from Westfield Shopping centre.
It runs until 27 October 2019. Tickets start from £18. There’s also family tickets available but please check the terms and conditions.
Address: Troubadour White City Theatre, Wood Lane, London, W12 7TS
Twitter: @TroubadourWCity @PeterPanLDB
Written by Caitlin Neal