|Copyright Steve Tanner|
There is a freshness and energy to this new production of a classic, which plays until 4th February at the National Theatre. For the adults in the audience, enough of the original magic is maintained with a Wendy (played by Madeleine Worrall) who captures that character on the cusp of adolescence.
Yet silliness abounds with characters such as Mr Darling refusing to take his medicine and a questionable casting of Tinkerbell; both were popular with children in the audience who were shrieking with laughter.
No production of Peter Pan would be complete without flying, and I loved the way this production handled the movement. Stage craftsmen and women were visible in static structures to each side of the stage, hooked up to the wires that were then hooked onto the performers. In a smooth airbourne dance the flight sequences came together beautifully. Who could fail to gasp as the children and Peter flew through the skies, encountering planets and stars along the way?
All this is to say that the design was brilliant; everything from the mermaids, to Captain Hook, to the lost boys' den worked together to create a beautiful interpretation of Neverland which felt modern and magical. With musical numbers which showed off the talents of cast members (Anna Francoloni as Hook in particular), there was more than enough to keep children and adults alike entertained.
Paul Hilton was well cast as Peter, as his slightly older look jarred with the childishness and naivety he conveyed through his performance. That jarring between age and youth is at the heart of the story and as the play reached its final moments, I had a tear in my eye when Peter and Wendy were reunited, the latter grown up and with a daughter of her own.
Overall, this is a production which is a credit to those involved in devising it, and in particular to Director Sally Cookson. This one comes highly recommened.