by J M Barrie adapted by Vicky Ireland music & lyrics by Stephen Markwick.
Queen’s Theatre Billet Lane RM11 1QT To 16 June 2012.
Tue-Thu 6.30pm Fri-Sat 7pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.
TICKETS: 01708 443333.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 9 June.
Colour and fun, yet plenty of depth.
Swashbuckling in its piratical moments, boldly staged, yet taking its characters seriously and catching the underlying sadness of a world which constantly undermines any search for lost childhood happiness, this is a richly enjoyable Peter Pan..
The entertainment comes naturally from Bob Carlton’s production, his Cut to the Chase Hornchurch actor-musicians easily taking to a clarinet, or producing a ukulele from a pram, and moving swiftly round Dylan Kennedy’s athletic Peter Pan.
It’s a big show for a mid-size company, but necessity’s made high virtue by an adaptation where a family of polite Edwardian children, like those who inspired Barrie, listening as he reads his story in Kensington Gardens (colourfully caught in Norman Coates’ set), then improvising its action with picnic things.
Reality, imagination and story mix as Wendy’s house is created from blankets, the Gardens’ pond is used as the Neverland ocean, a fish doubles as the crocodile, just as a balloon-seller’s fear her wares might bear her aloft suggests people flying, or a lamplighter the idea of Tinkerbell as a light on a long stick.
Adapter Vicky Ireland has spent her working life in young people’s theatre; she knows how to combine silliness, seriousness and songs (Steven Markwick has some highly-tuneful numbers catching the period’s style) coherently. The serious moments, mainly in the second act, are available for those who perceive them, without slowing things for others.
While this version cuts down Edwardian sentimentality, emotion arising through humour or action, there’s no doubting the Lost Boys’ (and Pirates’) longing for a family. But when Wendy creates one in Neverland, Kennedy captures Peter’s fear he may become trapped in unwelcome responsibilities.
Life and death may both be awfully big adventures, but Mrs Darling (‘darling’ and ‘Nana’ are neatly explained as names) shows the pain of separation: she’s a Lost Parent even if her boys happily accept Neverland. Yet fun, fights and story finally come back to children in a park listening to Jonathan Markwood’s Barrie, an author as confident as was the actor’s rich-voiced Hook, before an ending that movingly links the play and its place in our minds.
John: Matthew James Hinchliffe.
Archie/Nana/Tootles/Jukes: Callum Hughes.
Mrs Moon/Smee: Simon Jessop.
Peter Pan: Dylan Kennedy.
Organ Grinder/Mr Darling/Starkey/Slightly: Sam Kordbacheh.
Michael: Greg Last.
J M Barrie/Captain Hook: Jonathan Markwood.
Liza/Lamplighter/Tinker Bell/Tiger Lily: Natasha Moore.
Wendy: Kate Robson-Stuart.
Nanny/Mrs Darling/Nibs/Cookson: Alison Thea-Skot.
Director: Bob Carlton.
Designer: Norman Coates.
Lighting: Christopher Howcroft.
Sound: Alexander Broad.
Musical Director: Steven Markwick.
Choreographer: Hananah Welch.