Opening in a highly stylised version of the bedroom of Darling children Wendy, Michael and John, their oversized bed taking up most of the available space as they prepare to drift off to sleep, the Lyceum’s latest Christmas production appears to be standard Victorian-era fayre, at least until a certain young boy flies through the window.
The appearance of Peter Pan (Scott Fletcher) and Tinker Bell (Samuel Dutton), the latter clad in a tutu and flight helmet, leads to the start of an adventure which will take the pair and their new friends away from their parents – Irene MacDougall and Stuart Bowman – and off to the distant Never Land.
As the band of travellers set up home in Peter’s underground lair, Wendy (Kim Gerard) becoming “mother” to a group of Lost Boys along the way, there’s danger in the shape of the nefarious Captain Hook (Bowman again, seemingly channelling the late, great Iain Cuthbertson in his performance) and his crew of pirates, a man desperate to end Peter’s fun once and for all.
Taking centre stage for most of the production are Fletcher and Lyceum-regular Gerard, the pair hitting their stride early on as Wendy attempts to sew Peter’s shadow back on.
There’s a playfulness here that is infectious, helped in no small measure by the scene-stealing Dutton as the incomprehensible Tinker Bell, his rapport with the younger members of the audience threatening to overshadow the drama taking place elsewhere.
The clever use of the original bedroom set to represent rocks, a house and even a ship helps reinforce the idea that Peter’s world is one derived from make believe while moments of reality represented by Wendy and Tiger Lily’s displays of affection subtly show what it is he’s missing by remaining a child.
Director Jemima Levick’s new telling of Peter Pan breathes new life into a story which has become familiar to generations of children through animated films and references in popular culture. Levick is assisted in her task by a gorgeously understated score from Philip Pinsky and Francis O’Connor’s impressive set design which oozes quality.
With the audience clearly lapping up the story – more than once children could be heard shouting at Peter as Hook crept up on him or laughing at the escapades of Tinker Bell – this is truly a show for all ages, a flight of fancy from a century-old play with themes which still resonate today.
Visit the Lyceum Theatre website for full booking information.