James Bryant Moore
Phil Styles & Lauren Davies
FROME’S Merlin Theatre has come to the end of its run of ten performances of Peter Pan, and this review, written by Scarlett Sangster, hails the show an ‘enchanting’ and ‘delightful’ triumph.
On first sight, the beautifully crafted wooden set brings to mind a fantastical tree house, complete with hidden entrances, stepladders, and knotted ropes hanging from the open ceiling.
And, true the magic of imagination gifted to children of a certain age, this versatile backdrop transforms throughout the play; from the Darling children’s Victorian townhouse, to the lost boy’s hangout, to the decks of Captain Hook’s pirate ship, inviting the audience to indulge in this half- forgotten world of childhood.
The opening sequence, ‘There’s something in the air tonight’, immediately sets a tone of fantasy realism, drawing the audience into a parallel Victorian London where the seriousness of a child’s shadow being caught in a jar is regarded with upmost solemnity by the conservative Mr Darling.
Though entitled Peter Pan (a lead played with confidence by 16-year-old Oliver Edwards), it is the wonderfully audacious Wendy Darling who takes the guiding role in playing out the anxieties of growing up.
On the promise of a mysterious boy at her bedroom window, Wendy, as played by seasoned performer Jodie Paget, whisks her younger brothers, John (Noah Mcphee-Clarke) and Michael (Harvey Lamb), away with her in their cotton pyjamas, in the hopes that she might discover the secrets of Neverland, and escape the ever-looming prospect of adulthood.
“Second to the right and straight on till morning!”
“Well that’s not an address, you couldn’t have letters sent there.”
Entering Neverland, the lost boys take centre stage. Ironically sporting their assorted school uniforms this vivacious group of misfits, by combination of Abi Holmes’ dynamic choreography and the extraordinary chemistry within the group, set the theatre alight with energy. Immediately recruiting the audience into their wayward gang; “There’s been no fight the lost boys lost!”
Next to claim the stage are the lost boy’s nemesis group, the Pirates, led by the heinously seductive Captain Hook. In a modern twist on J.M Barrie’s classic tale, Daisy Mercedes executes the role of Peter Pan’s female arch-enemy with passionate conviction in ruffled skirt and knee-high boots. Her flawless vocals and snarky delivery take the overall tone of the play to a whole new level.
Enchanting, encapsulating, delightful. From the hypnotic fairy-lights right down to the mermaid’s emerald scales. The Merlin Theatre’s winter production is like being lulled into a dream of wonder and candid imagination. At the time of year when the child in all of us is looking to rekindle the magic of the festive season, director James Moore successfully imparts a most poignant Christmas message; “dreams never end”.
Review written by Scarlett Sangster