The Lost Boy Peter Pan
The Lost Boy Peter Pan at The Pleasance Theatre, London
“[Peter] has, I see it now, classic symptoms of ADHD”
I have never truly thought about what the problem is with Peter Pan - not the story, the child. He bosses everyone around, so cock-sure of himself, so clear about what is right and wrong, what is fun and what isn’t; his boundless energy, temper tantrums and recklessness… He has, I see it now, classic symptoms of ADHD and needs urgent treatment before someone gets hurt!
Thanks to this dark production from Action To The Word, I see the story and the world through Peter’s eyes in a completely new light, akin to The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
The set is minimal - a collection of boxes and ropes/vines. Surrounding the lot are instruments. The tale is told through action, the narrative and contemporary songs ranging from ELO to Barry Manilow and many more. At times, it works. The cast of seven play and sing live, they dance, they act, they tumble. Overall, their energy and sheer exuberance forces the play along, under the direction of the writer Alexandra Spencer-Jones.
The two stand-out performances are from the main duo - Toby Falla’s Peter is a force of nature, but sadly lacking the ‘twinkle’ that the character requires: it is hard to like an annoying brat who is over-caffeinated. His nemesis, Hook, is played with charm and grace by Wesley Lineham, but the script holds him back from entering pantomime villain territory.
This, though, is the major problem of the whole production. I left wondering who the show is aimed at. Far too bleak and noisy for most children, but lacking depth for the adults. The Lost Boy Peter Pan does not require audience participation, which for a family show at this time of year is bizarre. Only once are we asked to join in - Tinkerbell eats the poisoned cupcake and collapses into what appears to be a sugar-induced coma. The fourth-wall is dropped and we clap to revive her.
There are some genuinely tender moments, but too few to make an impact. The final scene could have been a real tear-jerker, but sadly Hannah Haines’ Wendy screamed out (literally!) for Peter and burst the emotional bubble. The whole event has the feel of an anarchic bunch of teenagers forcing themselves upon their relatives and friends - ‘Hey, we’ve got a show and we’re going to perform it for you (by which they mean ‘at you’) - so sit down and shut up and then you can tell us how good we are!’
I’ll be the grumpy uncle at the back who wants to play some party games and have some festive fun … Humbug!
Cast: Toby Falla, Hannah Haines, Wesley Lineham, Georgie Parker
Joshua Leese, Thomas Fabian Parrish, Olivia Warren
Writer / Director: Alexandra Spencer-Jones
Inspired by J M Barrie
Producers: Action To The Word and Glynis Henderson Productions
Photography: The Other Richard
Venue: The Pleasance Theatre, Carpenters Mews, North Road
London N7 9EF
Tickets: www.pleasance.co.uk / 020 7609 1800
Running until Sunday 7th January 2018
From £16 (£12 concessions)
Running Time: 75 minutes (no interval)
Twitter: @ThePleasance, #TheLostBoyLDN