Stratford Upon Avon
WENDY AND PETER PAN: Ella Hickson, adapted from the novel of JM Barrie
Runs: 2h 55m, one interval, till 31 January 2016
Tkts: 0844 800 1110
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 05 12 15
An exciting and profound adventure
WENDY AND PETER PAN is stronger in this version than in 2013 in its earlier version, which I also much enjoyed. In this version it has become a complex play with at least two things it wishes to say, loudly. Clearly it is about women, and their right to develop to their full potential, it is, after all, PETER PAN, told through Wendy’s eyes; this is beautifully encapsulated in the final scene, touching and funny, between Wendy and Mrs Darling. The scene also establishes that Wendy must be allowed to live a joyous childhood, too, free from adult responsibilities. The play also becomes one about dealing with the death of a loved one, also beautifully wrapped up in the final scene.
Ella Hickson has created a fast moving, touching and witty script.
Wendy’s journey to fulfilment and understanding is carefully shaped by Mariah Gale. She throws herself with great conviction into the role, her predicament all the more terrible because of the whole-hearted self-centredness of the Boys. We may warm to the boys in their naiveté, but we cannot help but find them little brats at the same time. However, we should realise that boys will be . . . children. Wendy’s relief at meeting another young woman in Tiger Lily is real and moving. Mimi Ndiweni’s Tiger Lily combines toughness and warmth in a performance we would like to see more of.
WENDY AND PETER PAN sports a large cast, but each character is fully, cleverly and wittily rounded. Rhys Rusbatch perfectly balances Peter’s likeability and selfishness. Darrell D’Silva is splendidly horrible and aristocratic as Captain Hook. Adam Gillen’s timid pirate Martin is splendid and his Act II scene with Wendy is both key and a high spot. And Charlotte Mills’s comically subversive portrayal of the fairy Tink is wonderful to dislike.
The story-telling tends to lose clarity amidst a lot of shouting and running about in the first half, but the second half makes up for this. There is also a fascinating and chilling crocodile cum shaman from Arthur Kyeyune; shame he is not better lit in his final appearances to give us full value from this intriguing creation.
Jonathan Mumby has worked well with the team to strengthen the play and bring out what it has to say, and it all moves around impressively and smoothly in Colin Richmond’s set.