Moira and I went up to London yesterday to see Sally Cookson’s much-acclaimed version of JM Barrie’s “Peter Pan” at the National Theatre.
It was simply brilliant.
the story, of course… Peter, the boy who never grew up; the Darling family’s
nursery and daughter Wendy; the ability to fly; Tinker Bell; the lost boys in Never
Land; Captain Hook and the pirates… and, of course, the crocodile!
It’s just a children’s story.
Well, yes. But this telling of the
story was completely magical.
funny, dramatic, brilliantly inventive, poignant… theatre at its very, very
production was devised entirely by the cast (in typical Cookson manner) - which
included Benji Bower’s wonderful, integral, music – and made the most of the
individual characteristics of the Olivier Theatre (with its drum-revolve stage).
The costumes, set design and ‘streetwise’ storytelling are all spot-on.
cast is absolutely excellent - including Felix, of course (“just plain perfect”
as one critic described him!), as Smee and Mr Darling – with Paul Hilton
stunning as Peter; Anna Francolini suitably fierce and sinister as Hook (and charming
as Mrs Darling!); Madaleine Worrall as an ideal Wendy; and Saikat Ahmed as a
ridiculous, but perfect, Tink!
difficult to pick any highlights of this show, but it would be utterly wrong
not to mention the FLYING! They don’t go for any invisible wires, they go for
rope systems and flying harnesses (which they describe to the audience as “fairy
string”!)… with fellow cast members acting as counterweights, bouncing up and
down tall stage scaffolding as the central characters ‘fly’. The whole effect
is extraordinary and wonderful… the first time Peter launches himself out over
the front stalls is simply breath-taking.
production was definitely for BOTH children and adults. The Olivier Theatre was
packed for the matinee performance we saw. The audience included lots of
children (included one group we noticed who’d dressed for the occasion… as
pirates, a sea captain and a green-clad Peter, as you do!) and everyone
(including the adults, let me stress) was captivated (in a very enthusiastic
Yes, it’s just a children’s story
(and I know I’m soft)… but it made me cry.
Magical, brilliant, uplifting – live performance
at its very, very best.
PS: IF I was any good with heights
and IF I was young and fit, then I think I’ve discovered my new dream career: “professional
counterweighter” (yes, that’s how the programme describes three individuals who
spend most of the production “bouncing up and down tall stage scaffolding” for some
of the most dramatic scenes)!
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