The Play That Never Grew Up

Never Neverland, fairies, crocodiles, pirates and a brand of magic. This was a piece that sounded right up my street. Peter Pan at the Barbican, directed by John Tiffany was full of promise…

A day later and I find myself feeling that they were promises undelivered, and yet, and yet. Well, to be honest I feel frustrated, it so almost got there as to put me into a state of quandry. This is one of those (rare?) times when it leaves me uncertain of what to say, and unsure how to feel about last nights journey into JM Barrie’s world, as conceived by David Greig.

The set, with it’s russet revolving bridges provided a grand backdrop and a clever climbing frame for the cast to clamber over giving many levels to the action. The skyscapes on the rear were elegantly designed and lit beautifully with rich colours and deep tones to give a feeling of ‘other-worldlyness.’

The flying was wonderfully casual – the ropes in constant view, no effort made to hide them. This element of ‘hiding in plain sight’ worked for me, and made it possible for Peter (Kevin Guthrie) to incorporate his ability to fly into everything he did – even sitting became something he could do in mid air.

Tinkerbell was a masterpiece portayed as a ball of fire, whose speech was simply a sound of smouldering embers. It made her graceful and magical and a joy to watch.

But there I start to falter, because everything else just didn’t live up to what I wanted it to be. The acting was, well in most parts pretty average, with the performances being somewhat immature (not intentionally). The energy behind the piece was lacking, and, well – tired. I just didn’t believe the characters.

The music, which was a heavily celtic themed score seemed out of place, the songs fairly irrelevant and the delivery of them uninspiring. I appreciated the cast playing the instruments themselves, but even that didn’t win me over.

The fight sequences seemed slow, confused and although full of potential they felt clumsy.

And there I run out of things to say, not for lack of verbage but more because I don’t want to give the impression that this was bad. It wasn’t.  It just could have been so much more. I think there is room for a dark re-telling of Peter Pan; all the elements are there, and they are all touched on here.  It just needed more, of everything. Which was a shame.

Published in: on June 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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