If you think you know the story of how Peter became Pan, then you’re in for a totally new and unexpected interpretation of Peter Pan.
I’ve wanted to see a Christmas show this year, and the Royal & Derngate never disappoints with their Christmas show. Obviously they have the pantomime every year, but I like that theatres offer an alternative Christmas show that isn’t all about audience participation and the cheesy song and dance, but an actual professional production that is just as festive in my eyes.
Peter Pan in my eyes is a perfect story, which is perfect just the way it is. Yes, there have been many stage adaptations from the classic novel on stage, to prequels and stories after the story, so was there really room for another version of Peter Pan to come to the stage? Are people ready to be introduced to a new Neverland people have never experienced before?
Peter and the Starcatcher is known as an adults prequel to Peter Pan, however I feel the Royal’s interpretation was very family friendly. It tells the story of an orphan boy and a young starcatcher apprentice named Molly, who go on a daring mission to rescue a cargo of stardust from falling into the wrong hands. It’s an adventure that gives the audience the chance to discover how the orphan soon became the boy called Peter Pan who would never grow up. A story we have heard oh so often, but the not quite the way we expect it.
The Royal Theatre, a theatre I know all too well was completely transformed into a pirates ship. The set was spread across the whole theatre, with barrels, rope, sea shells over the stage lights and the whole stage was covered in ripped blankets, wooden planks and the stage was tilted downwards to represent a ship. My mind was blown when the floor was then lifted up with Peter standing on top when singing the last song of act 1. I’ve performed on that stage a fair few times in the past, and I never knew the floor could lift up that high!
This is the first European premiere that Peter and the Starcatcher has ever received, and I had never heard of this interpretation before. It had a successful run on Broadway winning five Tony Awards and now out of all places, it’s European premiere has landed in Northampton. The adaptation was adapted by Rick Elice, who adapted it from the backstories of the Peter Pan series by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson, and with Luke Shepard’s direction, he’s managed to make the story fly off the pages and right onto stage, bringing it to life!
What I loved about this interpretation is throughout the whole show there was an element of storytelling all the way through. It was enchanting to see how simple objects on stage could be made into a scene, or a bigger object. Ladders to represent the front of a ship, wooden planks for doors, plastic sheets for the magical sea, and even the cast to represent a wall! It was fascinating to see the many ways a simple object could become something else. It’s a show that opened up all our imaginations.
It was so nice to see a whole cast full of a variety of men; strong, young, old but all so talented. It’s rare to see a production that make up of mostly men who all stood out as individuals as well as make an excellent ensemble. Lead by a strong female lead, Evelyn Hoskins shows that women can lead the story, and can become the hero! Not only was she a superb actress, who captured the innocence of a child, but the bravery of a heroine, but she’s also an excellent singer!
Peter Pan, played by young graduate, Michael Shea was everything I imagined Peter Pan being like. He was able to portray the perfect Peter Pan in my eyes, but without copying what every other Peter Pan actor has done before. He brought me to tears at the end of the performance, and this Peter was much grittier and was able to portray a more emotional side of him, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Although this is a family-friendly show, there was plenty of little moments for adults to enjoy; especially the innuendos that were coming from Black Stache, played by the comedic Greg Haiste who not only brought the character of Black Stache to life, but he made the audience roar with laughter with the significant scene when he looses his hand in the treasure trove. Cleverly done with egging the shock and horror of loosing his hand, without over-doing it.
It was a show full of imagination, adventure and emotion from start to finish. I really hope this production flies further into the West End, as I believe there is room for a different Peter Pan story to enter people’s imaginations. I’d hate to see it go on a too big of a stage, as the size of the Royal Theatre was perfect, therefore I personally feel it would be perfect on a stage like the St James Theatre or a similar venue.
Peter and the Starcatcher is running until the 31st December, so if you’re looking for an alternative Christmas show, make sure you catch it before it flies off to the second star to the right, and straight off till morning…