Peter Pan

Tue 19th – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Flo Layer

at 20:50 on 20th Aug 2014

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At first I thought that Duckegg Theatre Company’s show was going to be an amateurish production. Initially it was a struggle to hear the actors and when they first broke into the song I thought that this was going to be an awkwardly under par musical production. How very wrong I was.

This adaptation of Peter Pan was inventively adapted to appeal to both children and adults, mixing some very catchy (albeit incredibly cheesy) songs from the original score written by Phil Collingwood with polished direction.

This show transported the magical story of Peter Pan to the less than magical setting of Priceland, the local supermarket, where the staff create and perform a hotch potch production of Peter Pan to entertain a little girl awaiting the arrival of her mum. The use of this framework allowed the whole show to delight both adults and children: while the magic of J. M. Barrie’s original story was enough to enthrall kids, the underlying references to the real life situations and chemistry between the various supermarket workers kept the older audience equally enchanted.

One of the most brilliant and entertaining aspects of this show had to be the idea of using supermarket items as all of the props, adding a grounded, magical and humorous charm to the fantastical story. The pirates wielded foil wrap swords, Peter Pan struck with a baguette (Peter's "Pain" if you get the French pun) and the tinkling sound of the arrival of Tinkerbell was announced by the ring of a spoon against a bottle of whisky.

Collins’ score was incredibly catchy (the song ‘spending a night on the shelves’ continues to circle around my head) and well suited for a polished performance by the younger cast. Inevitably some of the singing was not quite up to scratch but in general the harmonies and parts were perfectly rehearsed, which was especially impressive from the younger cast of Lost Boys.

The huge group of young performers had a very polished stage presence and such moments when they created a home from cardboard boxes and fell asleep in a line leaning on each others’ shoulders were perfectly practiced. The acting from the adult cast was accomplished but didn’t deserve especial praise, although as Captain Hook, James Mountain demonstrated admirable enthusiasm and pirate-y brilliance.

This was a charming and appealing production, which grounded the magic of a wonderful children’s story in a hilarious, down-to-earth setting with memorable effect.

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Rowena Henley

at 21:36 on 20th Aug 2014

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Despite being quite the opposite of this show’s target audience, I can confidently say that Peter Pan is the perfect show for a family day out. The jokes were a little cheesy and the adaptation a little contrived, but overall the show was a thoroughly entertaining experience.

Duckegg (the theatre company behind this production) made a creditable attempt to modernise this classic childrenhood story and situate it within relatable surroundings. The play opened in ‘Priceland’ supermarket. To the more seasoned theatregoers in the audience this probably felt like a kind of Christmas pantomime deja vu, but I guess this was probably the intention. Either way, the setting at least made logical sense, as it was a smooth and easy set transition from ‘Priceland ‘to’ Neverland’.

On multiple occasions I found myself straining to hear the dialog onstage as none of the performers were given a microphone. This may have been somewhat of a blessing, however, considering the singing was very weak at points and some of the jokes were best left unheard. On the other hand, credit is due for the production’s song writing. Sure, it wasn’t Andrew Lloyd-Webber, but it prompted the odd laugh and gave the show a nice, wholesome feel. Furthermore, the actors themselves used instruments onstage to create all the music without any technical support.

On the whole, the acting was praiseworthy. Each actor suited his or her role well and there was a strong and professional sense of teamwork. Special mention must be given to James Mountain who was an exceptionally brilliant Captain Hook. Mountain gave his all to the performance and engaged the audience unlike anyone else onstage. Daniel Taylor-Brown was also a noteworthy performer. This young man did not once slip from his comical characterisation and he tickled me whenever onstage.

I was particularly impressed with the use of space in this production. The cast and crew employed ingenious methods to represent difficult settings such as the sky, a blue lagoon and a pirate ship with the help of lighting and props.

Unfortunately, I found one of my biggest issues with this production was the multiple messages it was trying to send us. Duckegg wrote in their program that this story explores “small town mentality, family and the challenges of following your dreams”. I suppose this was achieved in a roundabout way, but on the whole these themes simply collapsed into one another and caused the play to be somewhat unfulfilling.

Having said this, Duckegg’s rendition of Peter Pan does not rely heavily on the success of its allegory. The show is primarily about having fun and enjoying some light relief within our hectic lives. This show is well worth a watch if you have young children or childlike spirit yourself.

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