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Peter Pan review at Queens Theatre Hornchurch

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This fresh, imaginative new version of Peter Pan is conceived as a game of make believe in Kensington Gardens and makes ingenious use of the Italianate steps and pond that are the centre point of Norman Coates’ set. Dylan Kennedy, as a lithe, lightfooted Peter Pan, leaps athletically all over it – using an Irish lilt that neatly marks him out as different.

Everyone in this cast of ten is an actor-musician. Between them they manage sound effects such as Tinkerbell’s ‘voice’, for which Natasha Moore uses a penny whistle. They also play extensively to accompany Steven Markwick’s jolly songs. Instruments are also used entertainingly as part of the characterisation – from Kate Robson-Stuart, as Wendy, exuberantly playing violin to Simon Jessop’s Smee getting a lot of humour out of both trumpet and trombone.

Jonathan Markwood, with his lovely bass singing voice, doubles as JM Barrie and Hook – an interesting slant – while Mr Darling is a completely separate character nicely evoked by Sam Kordbacheh when he’s not playing keyboards, clarinet, a very funny Slightly – even more lost than the other lost boys – or a less than dashing pirate.

Audiences are so used to the pantomime version of this story, which owes a lot to the 1953 Disney film, that it is refreshing to see an adaptation that goes right back to Barrie and reintroduces incidents like Wendy and Peter being rescued by a kite and a bird, respectively. And what a good idea to use puppetry for the mermaid.

It’s a thoughtful show which oozes charm. Even the totally unnecessary and ill-judged fart joke sequence mars it only very briefly.

Production Information

Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, May 28-June 16

Authors
Vicky Ireland after JM Barrie, Steven Markwick (music and lyrics)
Director
Bob Carlton
Producer
Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch
Cast
Matthew James Hinchliffe, Callum Hughes, Simon Jessop, Dylan Kennedy, Sam Kordbacheh, Greg Last, Jonathan Markwood, Natasha Moore, Kate Robson-Stuart, Alison Thea-Skot
Running time
2hrs 10mins

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