Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14), Edinburgh
1-27 August 2018
Have you ever wondered what life was like for Wendy, John and Michael Darling after their adventures in Neverland with Peter Pan? Frankie Meredith’s Finding Peter takes these classic characters that we all know and love and gives some more fantastical flights of fancy. This time it’s Peter who’s in trouble, so Tinkerbell calls on the Darlings to come and save him; Wendy goes it alone, encountering some more familiar faces along the way. All before she gets too grown up to remember Peter, the Lost Boys and Neverland itself.
But did any of it ever actually happen? Wendy, John and Michael all acknowledge that this little adventure is make-believe, as there are several references to Michael and John playing the different parts (as well as Michael having a tantrum and forcing his older brother to switch places with him). So does this mean it was only ever a story? Or are the children simply impatient for Tinkerbell’s next call?
This family show, running throughout August at the Gilded Balloon Teviot (Wine Bar), brings the Darlings to the 21st century; in modern dress (well, pyjamas) and referencing Taylor Swift, this is a group of siblings children now could rather relate to. There are also enough little references included to make sure parents are amused, including Mimi not wanting to “conform to mermaid stereotypes” and Tootles announcing that he’s a vegan. The play encourages a more progressive attitude towards a ‘woman’s role’, with Wendy defying male expectations again and again, proving her strength and courage in dangerous situations.
There is some interaction with the audience, but not so much that it becomes tedious. As everyone in the crowd is joining Wendy on her adventure, of course, it’s necessary to find our own fairy dust and make our way to Neverland together – this proved rather exciting to the young ’uns, as did the marching song that we all joined in with later on to help Tootles feel brave.
Being 45 minutes long means it’s not too long for children to sit and concentrate, though it does leave you wondering whether a bit more time is needed for the story. At some points it feels like things are being a bit overdone, but at others it seems a little rushed – such as the conclusion of their time in ‘Neverland’. Though this is something that the target audience won’t be too fussed about, especially as they’ve been able to have a sing-song, find fairy dust, and watch some sword fights! Jenny Wilford is strong as Wendy, leading the show confidently and with great strength.
My verdict? A sweet family shows with a surprising amount of action packed into 45 minutes – Jenny Wilford leads well.