J M Barrie’s classic story is set in a contemporary, working-class Birmingham home. When Peter Pan turns up in Wendy’s high-rise flat, it’s an opportunity to escape her fraught relationship with her foster mother.
This Peter Pan puts Wendy’s role as a carer for her brothers at its centre.
Michael Pavelka’s brilliant kinetic set provides ample space for wonder (and flying). It unfolds, rises, assembles and disassembles with startlingly fluidity, keeping us more or less afloat through an, at times, muddied narrative, particularly in the second half, which has an inexplicable dance break.
Neverland is, in Georgia Christou and Liam Steel’s re-imagining, a graffitied underbelly, a parallel place where the Lost Boys are just as vulnerable as Wendy and her brothers, albeit more vocally so.
Cora Tsang and Lawrence Walker are a captivating Wendy and Peter, two sides of one coin battling Hook (metaphorically Wendy’s foster mum), played by Nia Gwynne on panto villain form.
But there’s a nagging question mark over all this: what does Wendy want? A mother, responsibility, childhood? As the recognisable Hook and crocodile confrontations play out, Wendy’s journey gets a bit lost.
Laura Jane Stanfield’s costume design adds rich detail and whimsy, embracing the playfulness of an ensemble of misfits and pirates. With Liam Steel’s direction highlighting drama and tension, the humour doesn’t quite land, although sweary (“Flick it!”) and iridescent feminist Tink is a crowd-pleaser.
It’s an undeniably inventive, technical spectacle, but you’ll think less of the storytelling than of the (frankly marvellous) flying, and delicate puppetry.