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Peter Pan at the Barn Theatre | Review

A father (Waylon Jacobs), away on business in a different time zone, returns to his hotel room. He immediately gets on his laptop and contacts his daughter (Georgia Dibbs) back in Blighty.

Waylon Jacobs - Photo Credit Eve Dunlop
Waylon Jacobs – Photo Credit Eve Dunlop
Pleasantries are exchanged (the conversation is slightly more formal than a father/daughter exchange in this day and age would be), before our narrator agrees to give his special little girl a story. There are, alas, no surprises as to what story is told. The show isn’t called Peter Pan for the hell of it.

As a one-man show (although this isn’t a one-man show, as there are ten ‘projection artists’ listed in the programme, plus musicians and a whole team of creatives, designers, crew, costumers and so on) it is left to Jacobs to voice everyone but the girl. He does so magnificently, at times picking up soft toys that are, for some reason, present in the hotel room (or maybe it’s an Airbnb property?) and using them almost as puppets.

In some respects, the production relies on the art of storytelling to spin a narrative that, told with the kind of enthusiasm and vigour Jacobs displays here, is well supported by the other aspects of the production that come together in a way that is pitched perfectly. There are sound effects, yes, but these are never overwhelming. There are harrowing moments in the plot, but these are not so dark as to make its target audience so terrified that they no longer wish to invest time and effort in paying attention to proceedings.

There’s a seemingly inexhaustible energy about Jacobs, in a briskly-paced performance that gets significantly physical. The production makes good use of the available stage space, with devices as straightforward as an umbrella handle becoming the Captain’s hook (so to speak) and as elaborate as moving animations that dominate the back wall of the stage. The music, too, complements the story without being overpowering or intrusive. At fifty minutes, the play is not a second longer than necessary.

No prior knowledge of the Peter Pan story is required to comprehend what goes on, and the show does brilliantly in drawing in both the young and the young at heart to its compelling tale. Vibrant and dynamic, this is an innovative and pleasurable production.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Desperate not to miss bedtime, a man in a hotel room three thousand miles from home recreates his daughter’s favourite story: an epic tale of adventure, pirates, fairies – a crocodile with gigantic teeth! – and a little boy who refuses to grow old…

The Christmas season will be filled with magic, trust and pixie dust as Cirencester is transported to Neverland in Peter Pan!

From the adaptor of the 2019 Built by Barn production of A Christmas Carol, Alan Pollock brings new life to the classic J.M. Barrie tale in this festive return to theatre. This brand-new adaptation is co-conceived and directed by Director-in-Residence Kirk Jameson (Just So, The World Goes ‘Round), co-conceived with music by Nick Barstow, movement direction by Tosh Wanogho-Maud, set and costume design by Gregor Donnelly and LX design by Joe Price.

21st November 2020 – 3rd January 2021
https://barntheatre.org.uk/

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