The Lost Boy Peter Pan: Pleasance Theatre, London
Reviewed 4th December 2017 (press night).
Based on the famous children’s story, this adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale gives an insight into Peter’s life and the affect being a Lost Boy has on him. Performed by seven live actor-musicians and featuring an exciting and diverse selection of well known music, this festive production is billed to be the perfect alternative to Pantomime this Christmas.
The storyline is clear and straight forward throughout the show. Most actors take on the role of several characters but these are clearly distinguished and the use of a narrator helps the audience to understand the swift developments in the plot. Whilst the storyline is easy enough to follow it does not seem pacy enough, particularly during the first part of the show. I’m unsure as to whom the target audience is. Young children will be enchanted with some of the scenes of pirates and flying but may lose the thread during the overly-long introduction. The story did take time to develop but eventually the audience were captivated by the story of Wendy and her brothers who have travelled to Neverland with Peter Pan. There are some great ideas and explanations of Peter Pan’s actions and the show definitely has potential.
Moving away from the previously advertised hits of the Beatles, the on-stage actor-musicians play a range of different songs, genres and instruments to help tell the story of the Lost Boy. The music choices are very mixed. Some songs are performed with great enthusiasm and talent and work very well with the plot whereas others feel forced, lack energy and not entirely in keeping with the show. Again, they do not necessarily suit one particular target audience. The music is not fresh or current enough to grab the attention of older children. Families of differing ages may well enjoy the show for this very reason. There is enough variety to suit most tastes.
The cast are onstage almost throughout the show. Hannah Haines, Wendy Darling, was particularly effective in role. Her vocals held out above the others and her facial expressions were very real – allowing the audience to actually believe she is Wendy, Mother to the Lost Boys. Wesley Lineham plays a very good Captain Hook who I’m sure younger members of the audience will love. The Lost Boy, Peter Pan himself is played by Toby Falla who certainly develops as the show goes on and makes his own mark on the well known character.
The lack of individual microphones did mean that some of the harmonies and lines were too quiet to be appreciated. However, the lighting and simplistic staging certainly helps this production. The choice to have the actors play the instruments also works in its favour. The musicians are all talented on their instrument and most of the time the instruments being on stage adds to, rather than distracts from, the action taking place.
The show certainly has some potential. With a simple, but effective plot and a different take on the well known character lots of families will enjoy seeing this production. An alternative to the Christmas Pantomime? I’m not sure. I doubt that this will appeal to the masses or keep all families interested throughout. But if you are looking for something different to do with your family and want to introduce your children to the act of storytelling and theatre in a relaxed way then this is a great show to see.
The Lost Boy Peter Pan runs at the Pleasance Theatre, London until January 7th 2018.
For more information and tickets please visit: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/lost-boy-peter-pan#overview
Photo credit: The Other Richard