RSC, Stratford Upon Avon, RST
info: rsc.org.uk
Runs: 2h 45m, one interval, till Sun 02 03 14

Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 18 12.13

I confess I like this one more than the original.
This is a really lovely reworking of one of our favourite seasonal stories. It’s not surprising – given the title – that this version puts Wendy at the centre of the story. The telling, while sticking to the traditional story, is gorgeously structured; it’s sensitively multi-layered. It becomes a story of Wendy’s growing-up, it holds up before us the possibility of a real love story between a real young woman and a real young man.

Fiona Button captures the nuances of the role expertly. Most touching is the moment (fleeting but powerful) she speaks of her guilt, her feeling of responsibility, for her brother’s death. But Button’s is no poe-faced rendering of her role, it is full of vitality and humour. She has a vulnerability about her, too, so we truly, truly care about her well-being.

The realness of the characters is everywhere and is one of the great strengths of the production as a whole. Nowhere could this be clearer than in Guy Henry’s expert portrayal of Captain Hook. He is villainous enough to satisfy the young audience’s need for a villain, but he holds back, so that we sense loss in this man’s life too.

The boys are all excellent. Cleverly this is less a play about lost boys, than about (young) men’s powerful urges to avoid putting away childish things. All awkwardness in men playing boys disappears under this concept. Sam Swann’s Peter is a marvel – he is overtly annoying, arrogant, feckless . . . yet we still like him.

The whole is confidently and sensitively directed by Jonathan Munby within Colin Richmond’s flexible and exciting settings.

This is a production of great beauty; and of great wit too. I still hear
Peter trying to cheer Wendy up: ‘Six out of seven dwarfs aren’t happy.’ And don’t we just love pint-sized, artisan Smee’s unrequited love for his tall and aristocratic Captain?

Michelle Asante – Tiger Lily
Fiona Button – Wendy
Simon Carroll-Jones – Shadow
Richard Clews – Knock Bone Jones
Matt Costain – Peter’s Shadow
Jolyon Coy – John
Gregory Gudgeon – Smee
Guy Henry – Hook
Susan Hingley – Shadow
Emily Holt – Shadow
Jack Horner – Shadow
Rebecca Johnson – Mrs Darling
Arthur Kyeyune – Shadow/Doc Giles/Crocodile
Will Merrick – Slightly
Charlotte Mills – Tink
Jack Monaghan – Nibs
Dodger Phillips – Murt the Bat
Guy Rhys – Doc Swain
Brodie Ross – Michael
Colin Ryan – Tom/Button
Sam Swann – Peter
Dafydd Llyr Thomas – Curly
Jamie Wilkes – Martin
Josh Williams – Tootles
Andrew Woodall – Mr Darling/Skylights

Director – Jonathan Munby
Designer – Colin Richmond
Lighting – Oliver Fenwick
Music – Olly Fox
Sound – Christopher Shutt
Movement – Michael Ashcroft
Fights – Terry King
Video – Ian William Galloway

2013-12-20 12:36:04

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