Musical Adaptation: Phillip Glassborow
Directors: Julia Black, Adam Forde, Lucy Betts
Musical Director: David Perkins
Reviewer: James Martin
Tonight the audience at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre were whisked away from the comfort of their own beds to the mystical and enchanting ‘Neverland’ where Kate Burgess played the eponymous hero this evening. Burgess played the rôle with the vigour and excitement needed to capture the imaginations of the audience and transfer them to a land of mermaids, fairies, Indians, crocs and of course pirates.
Leading the support rôles was Lucy Pollock who played a very assured and composed Wendy Darling. Pollock was excellent at recreating the persona of an upper class Victorian child equipped with all the necessary skills to mother a group of lost boys with biscuit making, pocket stitching and storytelling all topping the list. This rat pack also included her own two brothers John, played by Rowan Blofeld and young Michael acted by Arthur Handscomb who chipped in with some endearing lines of his own. Noticeable mentions must go to William Kirkham and Toby Escolme who played Nibs and Tootles respectively and added some extra comic timing to the adorable pack of motherless ‘Lost Boys’.
Wendy romanticised and fantasised over the ever young and ignorant Peter and this friendship and intimacy was expressed on stage by Burgess and Pollock in their many scenes together. However, the real chemistry was seen in the interplay between Captain Hook and his incompetent but loveable second in charge, Smee. Cameron Manson did a sterling job as the pantomime villain even goading the crowd into booing and hissing at one point which made a lot of youngsters in the audience feel involved. However, Luke Pitman was the real crowd pleaser with his audacious dancing, expressive facials and comic ability in depicting the hapless Smee.
As ever, the stage direction and choreography on show was outstanding with several scenes involving multiple groups of actors, culminating with the fight between the Lost Boys and the pirates. The triumvirate of directors had an incredibly tough challenge on their hands with their largest cast to date, featuring seventy actors and actresses aged 8-22 years old. The professionalism and passion shown on stage by each individual and as a collective is testament to how well the production company is run and this enjoyment was mirrored by the crowd.
The accompanying music provided by the talented David Perkins made the play flow seamlessly through each scene and although the set was basic there was good use of large central props such as a bedroom window and ship sails. This worked well alongside some clever lighting effects which made the character of Tinkerbell shoot around the stage and set the mood. The numbers involving the Indians had deep oranges and reds and the mermaids were assisted by blue and green lighting alongside some clever use of levels in their movements.
Peter Pan is a timeless classic that brings a sense of adventure to the smaller members of the stalls and nostalgia to those old enough to be able to look back fondly. Tonight’s performance did not disappoint and had toddlers and grandparents smiling in equal measure as all family friendly pieces should. The final word, however, should be reserved for both the cast and the crew for the time and commitment they have obviously dedicated to making such an entertaining and proficient production.