Filling the vast, cavernous space of the new Troubadour White City Theatre is no easy task. But Sally Cookson’s Peter Pan, which premiered at Bristol Old Vic in 2012 before transferring to the National Theatre in 2016, proves a good fit.
In keeping with Cookson’s other adaptations of classic children’s stories, this take on JM Barrie’s original maintains the key elements of the narrative but reshuffles the perspective. In this instance, Wendy (Daisy Maywood) becomes a far more reluctant ‘mother’ to the Lost Boys, while Captain Hook (Kelly Price) is transformed into a fantastically evil, gothic female pirate with shades of Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Tiger Lily (Jessica Murrain), so often a hugely problematic character in pantomime Peter Pans, is the kick-ass leader of a pack of wolves.
Unlike Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel’s celebrated staging at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Cookson avoids drawing on the book’s historical background, and instead interrogates its trickier themes, in particular the subject of motherhood.
Not everything works in the new space. There are moments where the acoustics and sound mix are slightly off, making it hard to decipher song lyrics – a real shame given how witty many of them are.
But despite this, the production remains engaging and entertaining, with John Pfumojena an enigmatic and brilliant Peter Pan. And the especially high roof of the production’s new home allows the performers to really soar.