Packed with breathtakingly bad puns and breathless but pitch-perfect singing, Peter Pan at the Harlow Playhouse is an ambitious and effective production. Adapted by Scott Ramsay and Kevin James, the script sticks closely to JM Barrie’s original text, adding just enough contemporary touches to feel relevant. Here, the Lost Boys crave Netflix as much as mother’s bedtime stories.
Director Daniel William Bell’s bold staging provides a striking sense of spectacle which complements the gently paced story. Seamlessly acrobatic wire work sees characters taking flight at the drop of a hat, swooping between dense layers of prettily painted backdrop. The first act finale is a real delight, depicting a mermaids’ lagoon transformed into an aquatic disco, drenched in ultraviolet light and filled with giant, bobbing jellyfish which drift out over the audience.
Best known for his three-year West End tenure as Marius in Les Miserables, Rob Houchen brings some lovely nuance and a rich, soaring singing voice to his performance as Peter, by turns impish, petulant and charismatic. Beside him, Emilie du Leslay’s Wendy holds her own, matching him quip for quip, and belting out her numbers with a winning enthusiasm which infuses the whole show with warmth.