Park Theatre, London – until 5 January 2018
In an exciting and ambitious move for one of London’s leading Off-West End venues, the Park Theatre splashes the cash on its Christmas production and with flying experts Foy on board, have arranged for Peter Pan and Wendy to soar through the space of the Park 200. And if the look of wonder in the eyes of the kids in the audience on press night is anything to go by, it has been money well spent.
Jonathan O’Boyle directs a cast who (except for a few tiny tweaks) stay true to J.M. Barrie’s original play script, itself a precursor to his famous novel. Nickcolia King-N’Da plays the boy who never grows up in a muscular, yet impish performance that convinces charmingly. Indeed – at the end of the story (spoiler alert for those who don’t know the yarn) as Mrs Darling welcomes her returned children back into the fold, while Peter remains outside, it would take a hard heart in the audience not to shed a tear, not only at the moment’s classic traditionality, but also, tragically, at its timeless relevance.
Alexander Vlahos takes on the traditional double-hander of Mr Darling/Captain Hook and delivers a menacing delight. Barrie clearly had a beef against the patriarchy in his writing, and while this production is most definitely not a pantomime (whilst remaining wonderful family theatre) when Hook receives his deserved “boos” from the audience, one cannot help but grin. Elsewhere, aside from the three Darling children, there is much doubling up amongst the cast. They are all good – but a special shout-out to Alfie Webster who aside from playing a couple of Hook’s pirates, does a sensational job in giving canine life to the Darlings’ dog Nana.
A mention too for the exceptional sound and set design teams. Adrienne Quartly’s sound design, not only gives a moving (literally) twist to the free spirit of Tinkerbell, but she also conjures up the locations of London, Mermaid Lagoon and Hook’s galleon wondrously. Gregor Donnelly’s set and costume design, likewise, is sensational. Clever backdrops and a beautifully timbered floor create the basics for all sorts of surprises. Nana (created by Matthew Hutchinson) is a gem of a creation – and as for the crocodile, ingenious and snappy!
The Park’s Peter Pan is beautifully festive theatre.
Runs until 5th January 2019Photo credit: Chris Gardner