Writer & Director: Sarah Punshon
Reviewer: May Mellstrom
With just a sprinkling of fairy dust, J.M. Barrie’s timeless tale of the boy who never grew up is brought to life in this years festive production from The Dukes. Artistic Director Sarah Punshon writes and directs this new version of Peter Pan and ensures there is something for everyone to enjoy.
On Christmas Eve, Wendy Darling finds herself whisked to Neverland; a magical world of adventure that is home to Peter Pan, his mischievous band of Lost Boys and the dastardly Captain Hook.
Punshon manages to pack a lot into the small space of the Round; with acrobatics, full musical numbers and creatively choreographed fight scenes. Claire Tustin and Ziad Jabero provide catchy original music including Pirate songs in classic sea shanty style and designer Tim Skelly sends flashes of light zipping and zooming around to track the flight of the fairies. There may only be five cast members, but they do the work of triple that number, playing multiple distinct characters throughout and carrying out some remarkably quick costume changes.
Gareth Morgan gives a playful performance in the title role, capturing Peter’s fearless but cocky nature that hides his deep-rooted desire to simply be loved. Returning from last years Aladdin, Dora Rubinstein is a likeable, sweet-voiced Wendy who it is easy to root for and Henry Mettle is entertaining as the hapless Pirate sidekick Smee. In a refreshing twist on the genderswapping pantomime tradition, Jason Patel makes an impressive professional debut as Tinker Bell (who doesn’t like to be put in a box – both literally and figuratively!) and Helen Longworth looks to be having as much fun as the audience as the villainous Captain Hook.
The true test of the show lies in the reaction of the watching children and from their enthusiasm and excitement it is clear that Peter Pan is a resounding success. The cast are adept at keeping everyone engaged throughout; there is no shortage of volunteers when some additional pirates are needed and the performers are kept on their toes by reactions from the children who can’t resist joining in!
Full of creativity and encouraging imagination, Peter Pan is great fun and combines physical theatre, music and clear storytelling to bring this classic fairy tale to life for all the family.
Runs until 5th January 2019 | Image: Contributed