Open Air Theatre Regent’s Park, London – until 15 June 2018
Guest reviewer: Jonathan Loudan
The Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park finally has a summer pantomime they can revive with minor tweaks and cast changes forever if they so desire.
Peter Pan is, in any case, the most durable of fairy tales originating at the Duke of York’s Theatre for Christmas 1904, and surviving a Disney animation, a Johnny Depp movie, the desecration of the Finding Neverland musical and now this wartime version sandwiched between scenes in a field hospital on the Somme. Topical when first performed at Regent’s Park in 2015 for the centenary, it now feels a bit odd.
Acknowledging the #MeToo campaign, at least one of the Lost Boys is also a Lost Girl, a spiky Caroline Degya as Smee with a searing Geordie accent, although Peter is relentlessly boyish – in the sense of being both selfish and thoughtless as well as ‘brave’ – energetically realised by former Billy Elliot Sam Angell, twanging about the fantastic Jon Bausor set on his catapult straps and wires like Spiderman.
Whether you love the production may depend on how many times you’ve seen Peter Pan before – this isn’t the gentle hymn to theatricality many children knew as their first-time experience, it’s often dark and may frighten the tinies.
Who knows what nightmares you’d have on first seeing a crocodile carried by wounded soldiers, or mermaids in gas masks?