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Review: Peter Pan, at Park Theatre

27 December, 2018 — By Howard Loxton

Alexander Vlahos in Peter Pan. Photo: Chris Gardner

DIRECTOR Jonathan O’Boyle offers this Peter Pan as a rare return to the original play. In fact, it has been regularly revived but perhaps he really means it’s not a panto or a Disneyfication.

Cut, slightly modernised and with a cast of only eight, this production is nothing like what people first saw in 1904 but it is still the story of the boy who won’t grow up with its now-ironic depiction of gender roles and parenting and the embarrassing necessity to pretend that you believe in fairies.

Sit back, relax and this energetic company will win you over with their enthusiastic playing as they shed their years to be the Darling children flying off with Peter Pan to Neverland.

Peter has only two lost boys (who double as Hook’s crew) but Rosemary Boyle is a charming Wendy trying hard to be a responsible mother to the Lost Boys.

Alexander Vlahos is a quirky Captain Hook and Mr Darling, adding a touch of terror to a comic performance, and newcomer Nickcolia King-N’Da is a Pan showing just a hint of uncertainty beneath his overweening confidence.

Stealing the show whenever around is JM Barrie’s surreal invention: Nana, the children’s sheepdog nurse. Here not an actor in a fur suit but a delightful puppet with a fur of rust red autumn leaves (operated by Alfie Webster).

These children seem to sleep on their nursery floor and you never get to see the mermaids or Tiger Lily’s Indians but Peter does fly, walking on air rather than soaring, and there is a lively fight between Hook and Peter and a sudden appearance of the crocodile that stalks the pirate (borrowing an idea from a recent Regent’s Park production).

This Pan doesn’t offer spectacle but an intimate theatricality that will engage the youngsters while giving their elders a strong critique of blinkered males.

Until January 5
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