Tick tock, tick tock, is that your watch or is Mr Crocodile, prowling your imagination in search of the villainous Captain Hook? Even if you’ve never ‘read-read’ Peter Pan, you are probably familiar with its hero: the boy who never grows up, lives in Never Land, flights pirates and best of all, can fly.
But here’s the thing, there’s another character with a story to tell – and in the RSC Winter production Wendy & Peter Pan, Wendy Moira Angela Darling is taking centre stage. No longer the placid ingénue who wants to play mother, she is instead a feisty heroine who’s as good with a sword as a needle. And like J.M Barrie, Wendy is searching throughout the play for her brother who died – her own lost boy.
As well as a new feminist angle, there’s still plenty of good-old fashioned magic and flying to leave watchers of all ages completely agog. The cast have been busy strengthening their core muscles in rehearsals so they can swoop across the stage, suspended from an enormous metal mobile and even without a harness, Peter is turning somersaults through the air, aided by his ingenious Shadow chorus.
While this is far cleverer than you traditional Christmas panto, there are still lots of laughs. Tink is the ‘big fat gypsy fairy’ with enough attitude to teach the brat-pack a thing or two, while Smee’s unrequited love for a certain one-hand captain is hilarious. Through the course of our NeverLand adventure we zipped through the full spectrum of emotions, from belly laughs to ‘eye rain’ (Peter’s words) to chortling, snortling and everything in between.
Of course it wouldn’t be an RSC production without a show-stopping set. Underground dens unfold from beneath the stage, a toy pirate ship becomes a galleon fit for piratical rumbustification and there’s a secret flutter (not entirely sure of the collective noun) of fairies waiting to light up, if only the audience clap loud enough –which they do.
The age recommendation for the show is 7+ and swashbuckling sword fights certainly kept the small people by the front of the stage enthralled. I went with my dad (who insists on not growing up) and he was crowing like Peter Pan all the way home.
Over a century later J.M Barrie’s classic story is as magical as ever. Leaving the theatre, beneath Stratford-Upon-Avon’s starry skies, we really did believe that with a little imagination (and fairy dust) anything is possible – and that girls can definitely have as much fun as boys.
PHOTOS FROM WENDY & PETER PAN BY MANUEL HARLAN.
Visit the Royal Shaksespeare Company to book tickets and be inspired.
From the 16th – 20th December you could win a family ticket to Wendy & Peter Pan on January 18th, all you have to do is Clap if you believe in fairies by following @puffinbooks and using the hashtag #ClapClap. Read the terms and conditions here View this photo