Last night as the sun set I took a trip to Neverland and watched Peter Pan at The Regents Park Open Air Theatre. The setting itself was stunning, in amongst the trees the theatre is surrounded by the wildlife of the park. With the natural sounds of birds and crickets, I really felt like I was part of the performance and it made it all so much more real.
The show wasn’t the standard story of Peter Pan, it began inside an army hospital during World War One, where the nurses were treating the trauma patients. As Wendy was attending to a particular patient she started reading Peter Pan to him, and suddenly all the patients became the lost boys and it innovatively transitioned into the classic tale of Peter Pan.
Throughout the show there is an underlying metaphor of how the lost boys are like the soldiers that went to war and never came home. It plays on the thought of the loss of innocence, I enjoyed this aspect of the show as not only was the show enjoyable and even hilarious at times, it was also thought provoking and a lot more interesting than the standard Peter Pan tale.
The use of puppetry in the show was phenomenal, creatively each puppet was made up of items that would have been found on the battlefield. Tinkerbell was made from an old lamp, Rachel Donovan did a fantastic job gliding around the stage animating the feisty character. I really warmed to Tinkerbell and it was heartbreaking when she drank the poison and her light began to fade, until Peter Pan got the audience chanting that they believed in fairies to keep her alive.
Pieces of tin and a British flag was used to create the ticking crocodile, I was constantly amazed by the artistry of the puppetry and props. A particular highlight being when the lost boys inventively created Wendy’s house out of the old army beds and pieces of army equipment lying around.
Kae Alexander played a superb Wendy, her enthusiasm was perfect, she captured the boisterous and bossy character flawlessly. Alongside her Hiran Abeysekera is captivating as the role of Peter Pan, he is adventurous and charismatic, his energy during the entirety of the show was electric.
The Lost Boys truly brought the show to life, they provided an enormous amount of comedy as their naivety and stupidity was brilliant. They were very loyal to each other and Peter, duplicating them as very lovable characters. Stand out performances from the lost boys include Nibs played by George Bukhari who portrayed the most foolish lost boy which was highly entertaining. Similarly Tootles played by Eben Figueiredo had the audience crying with laughter.
David Birrell did a fantastic job as the intimidating and menacing Captain Hook who’s role also involved the perfect amount of humour, especially as he sinks down through the stage as he is eventually eaten by the ticking crocodile. His sidekick Smee was tremendously cast as Beverly Rudd, she was absolutely hilarious as she attempted to be as threatening as Hook and inevitably failing.
The whole show was magical, especially the imaginative transitions as the phantom soldiers moved the props around and even managed ropes when Peter Pan flew out into the audience whilst singing old war songs. The use of live music created an entrancing atmosphere and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance.
It was one of the best shows I’ve seen all year because every single detail was incredibly thought through. The whole performance was sensational, it’s the perfect summer night out and an enchanting piece of theatre.
Peter Pan is on until the 14th of June and tickets can be found here.