Sun 28th – Mon 29th August 2011


Xandra Burns

at 00:41 on 29th Aug 2011



Explosive Arts’ new piece, Imaginarium, is pure fun. A team of 11-14 year olds take on the challenge of writing and performing their own play. The story they create is that of young teens and tweens exploring the values they have forgotten by revisiting the world of Peter Pan.

An original score performed live by Ricardo Pereira and Ihsan Kerr sets the tone as the audience is seated and continues to enhance the performance throughout. The script the actors have written is clearly juvenile, but for what it is, includes both touching clarity and some hilarious comedy. Their play evokes the same sentiments for me that the story of Peter Pan does for the characters.

The actors make full use of the space, at first cluttering it with moving boxes to illustrate Emily’s family move. One by one, cast members enter from within the boxes. They take full advantage of having audience members on three sides of the stage, using the edges to create a game of hide and seek, and later to represent finally falling asleep against their pillows. The script has some unnatural transitions - for example, the subject of Peter Pan is brought up in a game of “word association” - but others, such as the cast passing plates of cookies around the audience at the start of “story time” are endearingly original. Simple yet graceful choreography and suitable lighting pervade, with particular success in the chase scene.

Each modern “friend” of Emily’s represents a character in Peter Pan, connecting clearly clear without being blatantly obvious. The cast is costumed in normal teenage garb influenced by the characters of Peter Pan, such as prissy skirts for the Tinkerbells and asymmetrical striped tops for the pirates. Hook’s “hook” is fashioned from a folded umbrella tucked into a bracelet cuff. The general color scheme of green, black, and white, unites the whole group in their rendition of Peter Pan.

The cast functions well as an ensemble, with a couple of standout performances. Rory Laing as Robbie starts the play off comically with his nervous attempt to tell Emily that she’s “pretty” (or actually “hot. Really hot.”). Once they begin to reenact Peter Pan, Nina Humphery plays Smee with subtle deadpan humor.

As the play closes, each cast member holds up a pillow on which is written a positive or informative message, reinforcing the difficulties of growing up and the importance of encouraging positivity. Imaginarium is forty-five minutes of sincere nostalgic enjoyment.


Julia Chapman

at 09:10 on 29th Aug 2011



Imaginarium: a play as whimsical and charming as its title suggests. Revolving around a little girl named Emily whose family is moving house, Imaginarium draws parallels between Emily’s life and the story of Peter Pan, as Emily turns to the children’s story to find solace in a difficult time.

The play opened with Emily, tears streaming down her face, surrounded by the daunting and unpleasant task of packing up her room. As she begins to reminisce about the times she spent in the house, her friends shockingly emerge from the boxes (very impressive that they stayed in them for so long) and act out memories. The play was devised by the group, whose marvelous effort resulted in a piece that was thoroughly enjoyable, if slightly lacking in cohesion. Bearing in mind, however, that the group range in age from eleven to fourteen. The performance was an impressive accomplishment.

All of the young actors were extremely precocious. The most natural performers were Rachel Smith as Emily, whose anger at her mother for uprooting her was very much palpable, Rory Laing, whose Robbie/Peter was played with charisma and charm, and Nina Humphery as Smee, whose comic touches made the audience laugh wholeheartedly.

Imaginarium was accompanied by a live pianist and guitarist, whose music suited the piece beautifully. One of the funniest moments of the play was in a somewhat redundant scene involving ‘Jemima Kyle’, in which the pianist ran onstage to separate Tink and Bell during their tongue-in-cheek quarrel, shouting “Oh, hell no”. Other noteworthy touches include the collapse of everyone on stage as the memories of the past are shattered by Emily’s mother’s calls, and the graceful, dance-like seduction of Wendy and her siblings by Hook and Smee.

More than anything, Imaginarium was endearing, and although its plot didn’t flow particularly well, the storyline worked well enough to be enjoyable. Funny and enchanting, Imaginarium was a story for all ages, whether you have defied Peter Pan’s insistence to not grow up or not.


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