The arrival of Christmas brings with it two certainties; the first that there will be no shortage of pantomimes, the second that Peter Pan will likely be one of them! This year, audiences have an alternative to the typical Peter Pan pantomime in the form of Alexandra Spencer-Jones’ production The Lost Boy Peter Pan. Presented as a musical adaptation and with imagery reminiscent of musicals such as Once, the production sets itself up to be an all singing all dancing extravaganza. In reality, while teaming with talent and enthusiasm the piece is much less Barlow’s Finding Neverland and much more Christmas pantomime.
Energy is in abundance on the stage and from the moment the production kicks off the audience are delivered a delightful bounty of childhood exuberance and boundless fervour. From he who never grew up, to adults who are young at heart, one could be forgiven for questioning whether Toby Falla’s Pan is subject to the same laws of gravity as we mere mortals. Leaping and bounding and as light on his feet as any fairy or phantom, there are certainly moments when the audience may reach for the fairy dust, temporarily considering the legitimate possibility of flight!
The proficiency with which the performers swap between characters at a rapid pace is testament to the versatility of the cast. Likewise, the musical prowess is certainly admirable and the ways in which they seamlessly swap between instruments and roles is exceptional. That said, the overall structure and vision of the piece seems lost on its journey to Neverland, and certain elements feel ‘tacked on’ rather than integrated into the heart of the production.
The gratuitous inclusion of several songs that do nothing to facilitate character introspection or further the narrative are greatly disruptive to the flow. Likewise, the incorporation of Pan’s origin story, presumably intended to add an emotional weight to the production, adds little to the narrative and draws out opening scenes unnecessarily. This seems be a recurring issue, with several well intended departures from the script explored in theory but not given the depth required for them to truly add to the story. The same can be said for additional characters, such as the Welsh mermaids, who contribute little yet are given substantial stage time – extending the duration with little gain.
There are, however, some spectacular exceptions to this, notably the amazingly choreographed fight between Hook and Pan which has superb musical accompaniment and is brilliantly delivered by Fallah and Wesley Lineham. Likewise, the choreography depicting Pan’s initial flight is also a stand-out moment and is beautifully executed and integrated with sophistication.
For those with a love of the boy and his mischievous shadow, the fairy dust and magic are certainly delivered. For those looking for an alternative to pantomime, you might find yourself a little like the lost boys.
Review by Cassandra Griffin
Based on the most famous children’s story of all time, this magical adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of fairies, pirates and the little boy who flew through the window is the perfect alternative to Pantomime. The Lost Boy Peter Pan is a journey past the second star to the right and on until morning, featuring an exciting and diverse selection of well-known pop songs.
Searching for the perfect mother, Peter finds Wendy Darling and her brothers, taking them to his home in Neverland. Will they ever return? Will they ever grow up?
This funny and moving tale offers an insight into Peter’s life before he met Wendy and offers a fresh look at this much-loved story. With seven live actor-musicians, this enchanting and charming production is a treat for all ages.
Writer/Director Alexandra Spencer-Jones
Lighting Designer Sarah Hazelgrove
The Lost Boy Peter Pan – Toby Falla
Wendy Darling – Hannah Haines
Captain Hook/Mr Darling/Tink – Wesley Lineham
John Darling – Joshua Leese
Tinkerbell/Tiger Lily/Tootles – Georgie Parker
Mrs Darling/Nibs/Queen of The Fairies – Olivia Warren
Michael/Smee/Nana – Thomas Parrish
The Lost Boy Peter Pan
Performance Dates Wednesday 29th November 2017 – Sunday 7th January 2018
Running time 75 minutes
Age recommendation 3+
Pleasance Theatre, Carpenters Mews, North Road, London N7 9EF