The Park Theatre’s festive show keeps it traditional and accessible to children.
The wonderful thing about going to the theatre to see a family orientated show such as Peter Pan is seeing just how the children in the audience react to what they are watching. Not only does it show the power of theatre to enchant but also whether the production successfully immerses the audience (of all ages) as a whole. Thankfully Jonathan O’Boyle’s delightfully charming production does from beginning to end.
Everything about the production hints at the magic and power of imagination expressed throughout the story. From the atmospheric but practically designed set by Gregor Donnelly that adapts well to a variety of locations to the vibrant variety of lighting styles designed by Nic Farman, the audience is easily swept away on a magical journey.
There are occasions in which scenes are unnecessarily dominated by conversations when a little more action wouldn’t go amiss to hold younger audiences attention. This is particularly made clear during the cave scene when the build up to Peter’s fight with Hook seems unnecessarily dominated by words when the children in the audience were more interested in the fight itself – it can make the production come across as slightly rambling and unfocused.
However, despite this there is much for audiences of all ages to enjoy. Not least the wonderful fight choreography which thrills and delights in the climax of the show and of course the delight among the audience at seeing Peter Pan flying playfully through the air above the audience. Each element of the production has been given plenty of thought to enchant with style.
The production is clever enough to keep a small hint of pantomime style in terms of the characterisations to keep the characters accessible for the audience. In particular, Alexander Vlahos as Captain Hook is wonderfully flamboyant as he attempts to capture Peter Pan, while trying to avoid a troublesome crocodile. He generates a great rapport with the audience throwing a few surprises their way – just look out for a leaf blower is all I’m saying!
Elsewhere, Nickcolia King-N’da makes for a strong Peter Pan, showing the character’s conflict between wanting his freedom and not growing up in contrast with the desire for a family to great effect. The final moments between him and Rosemary Boyle’s Wendy are genuinely heartbreaking. Boyle’s Wendy is suitably prim and proper as she acknowledges the fact she is growing up, while Natalie Grady as Smee makes for a delightful performance with great comic timing.
Overall, this is a very traditional and gentle production of Peter Pan which although doesn’t offer a fresh approach in terms of the way in which it is presented is still entertaining and enchanting throughout. It is a cosy and intimate production that works well in the Park Theatre’s space.
By Emma Clarendon
Peter Pan continues to play at the Park Theatre until the 5th January 2019. For more information visit: https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/peter-pan