I often flew as a child. This was from the top of our landing, high in the air, down the stairs. I was strangely graceful and it was heavenly. Unfortunately, I always woke up, just as this deliciousness ended, when my mother urged: “Get up!” and I left the magic of my dream immediately. But I reckon there are many adults who also once flew as children?!
Storyhouse’s cast of “Peter Pan” were lucky. This Autumn, they REALLY learned to fly. This was with Wendy Hesketh-Ogilvie and her team at “Wired Aerial Theatre” in Liverpool’s Docklands. The result of the cast’s training is a fantastic part of “Peter Pan”, keeping us constantly staring heavenwards into the heady heights of the theatre. We were spellbound by such skill and this visual delight.
“Peter Pan” is Storyhouse’s 3rd Christmas production. It’s written by Olivier Award-winning playwright Gary Owen, who along with Martin Constantine, the director, has kept its classic features while injecting an up to date take on life in 2019. This enticing mixture works well throughout the show. “Peter Pan” is a Christmas show worth catching. It features many magic touches and it’s particularly fascinating to see the cast playing multiple characters, thus demonstrating their talents in many directions.
The strutting energetic Peter Pan (James Phoon) in his jeans and hoody, is a cocky self-confident teenager, of the ilk you may recognise! Peter is loud and raucous and regularly makes the stage his own. Wendy (Georgia Jackson) oldest child of the Darling family, has slipped out of her customary white nightdress, into dungarees, stripy top, custard yellow boots. A child seated near us in the audience, declared: “CAN I HAVE THOSE BOOTS FOR CHRISTMAS, GRANNY?!” (That was good thinking; those boots were fabulous!)
I found the sassiest character of all to be Fairy Tinkerbell (Carlie Enoch) who “bewitched” us in a sugary pink dress (think Jodie Comer?!) and jazzy platform trainers. It must also be said that Tink’s attractive Welsh lilt, turned on full power when using beguile on Peter, enchanted us, along with her snappy jokes and crisp one-liners.
Other Mains feature the talented Imogen Slaughter playing two parts, one as the snazzy female Captain Hook, cleverly managing to be both likeable and scary at the same time, plus her second part as motherly Mrs Darling. These were contrasting roles played in an equally engaging fashion. The Darling brothers, comfy in pyjamas and dressing gowns, are played by trainee actor George Bellamy as John, with several members of Storyhouse Youth Theatre taking turns to pay Mikey. In all twenty-one youngsters take part in the show, playing Sharks, Pirates and Lost Children, They’re even included in several fight scenes.
We also enjoyed Neil Craig as hard-working Dad and the hilarious Noodler, Matthew Coulton as Slightly and also Smee, plus Charlotte Gosling as both devoted dog Nana and glamorous Tiger Lily. They must be double quick-change artists!
Although not officially a pantomime, we nevertheless had audience participation: hissing at crocodiles, lots of rigorous clapping, and at the end, we caught huge snowballs which were hurled with gusto into the audience from the stage. The children loved it!
The imaginative set design by April Dalton was magical, with lights and colour from a myriad of palettes, costumes that entranced and changing scenes to marvel. On top of this, we had musicians and singers who stoked up just the right atmosphere at every turn.
“Peter Pan” is a Storyhouse Original production. It’s at Storyhouse (storyhouse.com) until January 12th, tickets from £15 – book here.
*Photos courtesy of Mark McNulty and Mark Carline