Wendy, Peter, Tink, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys are waiting to take you on an unforgettable journey…
Being avid fans of fairy-tales, all things glitter and the RSC, you can only imagine how excited we were for Jonathan Munby’s production of Wendy and Peter Pan. A whirlwind of success in 2013, it is gracing the stage for a second time until 31st January 2016.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Ella Hickson’s Wendy and Peter Pan is an adaptation of JM Barrie’s classic children’s book. Hickson’s version includes all the magic, zeal and excitement of the old classic but puts a contemporary spin on it by conveying the story from Wendy’s perspective as well as Peter’s. We see how Wendy’s experience in Neverland isn’t exactly fun and games- how she is often the only female and is constantly demanded to play mother for the boys. Their fascinating adventure is packed with highs and lows; and there is a particularly heart-warming moment towards the end when Wendy, Tink and Tigerlily finally decide to unite as a team to rescue the boys from trouble.
Colin Richmond captured the enchantingly beautiful Neverland perfectly through his set design. To begin, the children’s bedroom was realistic and simple with a bed in each corner. This later miraculously transformed into Mermaid Lagoon by being lifted out of the floor which was particularly impressive.
The Lost Boy’s den was wonderfully intricate, littered with fairy lights and odd bits and bobs. Captain Hook’s pirate ship later appeared to float on stage seamlessly, with a huge skeleton face engraved on the front; it was exactly what we would imagine a pirate ship to look like, not that we’ve ever seen one!
In this re-working of the classic, Ella Hickson contributed some significant changes, including centralising Wendy’s role to give her bolder and more independent characteristics. It was engaging to see Wendy focused on in a positive light, in the original play Wendy’s role was to play mother yet in this adaptation Wendy was more reflective of an independent women who was on her own journey. There is a scene which mentions Mrs Darling becoming part of the suffragette movement and beginning to work two days a week to make a living for herself, we are shown how having a strong mother like this paves the path for having a daughter who can also fight her own battles. We also believe that when Wendy, Tink and Tiger Lily grouped together there were undertones of a feminist message, they are stronger when they choose to fight for the same battle, rather than bickering.
This adaptation succeeds in providing a storyline for the old and young; the addition of the Darling children having a brother who passes away in the beginning scenes and the lost boys being boys who have been literally lost to their parents through the dying of a child, passes on an extremely deep message on the nature of death. Wendy is a young girl who is then forced to grow up faster, she continuously attempts to let go yet struggles without the help of Peter. We also witness the struggle of the Darling parents, who forget how to laugh, and we are taught the importance of laughter and fun and how it brings the potential of lightness and hope even at the darkest of times. Equally there is just as much going on throughout the play to continuously appeal to the young and more light-hearted, there is a constant sense of adventure and the way the play is set out makes it like an experience, both involving and exciting the audience. There was a magical moment for the younger part of the audience where the cast interacted with the audience, they needed to bring Tink back to life and they got everybody to clap along. While the audience were clapping fairy lights all over the balconies lit up, we believe this was symbolic of how through positivity we can turn darkness into light, it was an enchanting final touch to a fantastic adaptation.