Tuesday, 5 December 2017

REVIEW: The Lost Boy Peter Pan at the Pleasance Theatre

On paper the idea of taking a talented young group of actor musicians, the inspiration of JM Barrie's story of Peter Pan and modern pop music and combining it into a fresh take on the story of the lost boys is good. Of course already we have had in London the extraordinary visually exciting Bat out of hell which did just this with the music of Meatloaf and will return to West End next year. It is therefore a challenge that producer Action to the word have set themselves to do the same in the small intimate venue of the main house at The Pleasance in Islington for a Christmas run.

This version which says it is inspired by JM Barrie actually stays pretty close to the familiar elements of the story : the flight from London, the shooting of Wendy, the capture of Tiger Lilly , the poisoning of Tinkerbell , the capture of Wendy by pirates , the fight with Hook and the return to their Mother and Father. However what writer and director Alexandra Spencer Jones has created is a frenetic , energetic , punk version of the story with the cast of seven leaping around the stage playing a wide range is instruments in short bursts of song dressed in their pyjamas. 

They are a likeable engaging ensemble who work hard to drive the story along using the simplest of settings and jumpy, frantic movement and choreography. The standout performance is Toby Falla as the Lost Boy , the boy who does not want to grow up who combines well with Hannah Haines as Wendy and Georgie Parker as Tinkerbell. Wesley Lineham , with blackened eyes is his nemesis,Hook. Joshua Lesse, Olivia Warren and Thomas Fabian Parrish play the rest of the Darlings. 

The story starts freshly enough with Peter's first journey to Neverland in 1704 but we are told it is in 2017 when Pan collects the Darling children from their bedroom and it would have been more appealing to have instantly recognisable
music or references to modern influences of technology, drugs and mental health. But instead we get the traditional familiar story telling in a breathless ninety minutes with snatches of known songs.

The end result is not suitable for very young children but is an interesting retelling of the story with the talented young cast that could have offered a new take on the story.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★
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