Starting with the traditional nursery scene, Wendy (Daisy Maywood) and her brothers John (Alistair Toovey) and Michael (Ammar Duffus) are being told a story by their mother (Kelly Price). Their father (David Langham) is getting ready for an important party and is immediately impatient with their nurse Nanna (Mark Kane). Kane plays Nanna the dog as human as can be which sets up the idea that in this production, imagination plays a key part.
Once the children are asleep, Peter arrives through the window. John Pfumojena gives an extremely physical performance and is almost shape-shifting in his portrayal of the cocky, flying boy. His innocence is perfectly believable, and he definitely gives off an ageless quality. It is balanced well with Maywood’s strong and determined Wendy who wavers between enjoying herself as a child and knowing how to be a grown-up.
Once the flying begins, the strong visual aspect of this production really takes off. Peter explains to the children they need ‘fairy strings’ in order to fly and the cast make no effort to hide their harnesses. However, the magic of the actors soaring above the auditorium is still exciting and for the wide-eyed children in the audience, a theatre memory they’ll keep for a long time.
The journey to Neverland showcases the brilliant design element of this show, with a really fun use of puppetry, lighting and creative props. The Lost Boys’ den is a graffiti ridden wasteland with scaffolding and collected junk. The pirate ship is an enormous skip straight from a dump and even the crocodile is made from scrap metal. Everything comes together to give the impression that Neverland has been forgotten and its inhabitants left to their own devices.
This version doesn’t shy away from the darker sides to the story and was actually quite scary in places. There was less humour than you would expect for a family show, especially from the usually comedic Lost Boys. Percussion was widely used which added to the heaviness and sometimes sluggishness of the scenes. Some of the music, in particular the songs, were quite droning and therefore tricky to get behind as an audience member. Visually stunning but there was certainly an element of fun missing from this trip to Neverland.