Set against the backdrop of a WW1 nursing station, this poignant revival of Peter Pan sheds new light on the nature of lost boys and what it is to grow up. Timothy Sheader's thoughtful Open Air Theatre production returns after impressing in 2015.
A medley of war songs and nursery rhymes sets the scene and Pan’s motley crew of motherless boys are injured soldiers. As the nurse reads from J.M Barrie's book, we are transported to the Darling family nursery in a world of lost boys and awfully big adventures.
Jon Bausor’s set is a joy, full of surprises that had audience members of all ages gasping: spring blooms, a Wendy House is created with charmingly childish imagination; it’s a magical mermaid lagoon, then a swashbuckling pirate ship.
Along with this impressive use of the open air stage, it was the detailed touches of tradition and the undertone of trench warfare that charmed us: fish are swishing pyjamas, mermaids have gas mask faces and below the action below the stage elegantly echoes trenches.
Cora Kirk as Wendy and Theo Cowan as John
The flying is a feat to behold: soldiers, climbing up and sown scaffolding pillars, balance the weight the actors soaring across the sky. And if there we some little ones disappointed not to have seen a real fairy, an endearing and obnoxious Tinkerbell, crafted from gas lamps and brought to life with gusto by puppeteer Elisa De Grey will have quickly won them over.
Sam Angell's Pan is full of impish energy and the Lost Boys capture career around the stage with a child-like lollop. Caroline Deyga's Smee was the children’s favourite. The pirates hold enough peril to grip but won’t give the children nightmares. And an army officer Captain Hook meets his toothy end in a spectacular feat of staging.
Instead of trying to reconcile the jarring maternal fixation of J.M Barrie’s original, this interpretation plays it up: a jocular Smee makes a groupie banner begging ‘Wendy, be my mother’, and a dislocated Mrs Darling haunts the stage with mournful song.
It’s rare to find a show that can delight young and old in equal measure, but Peter Pan pulls it off. There’s an enlightening interpretation to the original that will touch adults, and copious adventure, excitement and wonder to keep kids enthralled.
|What||Peter Pan, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre review|
|Where||Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, Inner Cir, Westminster, London, NW1 4NU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Baker Street (underground)|
17 May 18 – 15 Jun 18, 7:45 PM – 9:45 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book via Regents Park Open Theatre|