Review: Peter Pan, Derby Theatre

If you are searching for a spellbinding evening of adventure and fun then soar to the second star on the right and head straight on for Neverland with Peter Pan at Derby Theatre.

Everything you would expect and more was woven from the much-loved story into Mike Kenny’s adaptation and the multi-talented cast of musicians and actors bring the story to life with energy and obvious joy.

As well as moonlight flying, pirates, mermaids and giant crocodiles we are given a feisty Wendy fighting her own corner with a sword, a mournful Captain Hook (not until he has been pretty mean and scary of course, fairies sporting Mohican hair and a new songbook of tunes from composer Ivan Stott.

This Peter Pan might have had a contemporary theme but it wasn’t over-done by the designers and the Steampunk edge to the costumes helped retain the Edwardian feel of the original J.M. Barrie story.

The set could easily have reflected the tragic, concrete playgrounds endured by our 21st century lost children but instead it was one straight out of the imagination of any youngster, with a cleverly-constructed pirate ship, lagoons and colourful rainforest dens.

Inviting the audience to use their own imaginations, director Sarah Brigham makes no attempt to hide the flying wires and Wendy is clipped in and hoisted to the stars in plain sight of us all. Sometimes you just have to accept there is more than a bit of fairy dust needed to produce such a slick show.

With the exception of the crocodile (and I will not give that away) what amused the young people in the audience the most was the no-nonsense dropping dead of a fairy every time anyone dared to say they didn’t believe in them. Black comedy at its best, and always a sure-fire winner with children.

Brigham wants the families enjoying this Derby Christmas show to leave with huge smiles on their faces, a desire to return to the theatre and most of all the thought that they should cherish each other. I am sure they do all three.

The cast are Jack Brett as Peter Pan; Julian Capolei as John/Curley/Starkey; Neal Craig as Captain Hook/Mr Darling/Nibs; Elizabeth Eves as Mrs Darling/Tiger Lily/Jukes; Ru Hamilton as Michael/Tootles/Cecco; Jack Quarton as Nana/Slighty/Smee; Esme Sears as Tinkerbell/Tinkerpirate and Sally Ann Staunton as Wendy.

The Young Company (two sets) are Jessica Allinson, T’yanna Asafu-Adjei, Ariana Botchway; Primrose Cole, Maisie Grace Denney, Jaiya Dhillon; Joel Fox White, Keisha Ghai, Iris Harwood, Hannah Mukhtar; Joseph Smyth; Roberto Storey, Olivia Thomas; Harry Tallis, Imogen Uphill, Bailey West, Alfie Williams and Freya Youngman.

The creative team other than those mentioned are Neil Irish, set, Tim Heywood, costumes, Emma Jones, lighting, Ian Stapleton, fight director; Kitty Winter, choreographer (mermaid dance), John Barber, shadow puppet director, Oliver O’Shea, assistant director, Kay Magson, casting director, Beth Williams, company and stage manager, Moby Renshaw deputy stage manager and Zoe Saunders, and Mason Walter Cooper, assistant stage managers.

Peter Pan can be seen until January 6. For tickets go to http://www.derbytheatre.co.uk 

Here’s a trailer if you want more of an idea of what to expect. The pictures are by Robert Day.

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