dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
A very different Peter Pan
Peter Pan flies into Birmingham Repertory Theatre this Christmas – but it's not Peter Pan as we know it. This new modern production brings Peter Pan right into the present day and into the heart of Birmingham.
With stunning sets, dramatic music and lots of high-flying special effects, this is no pantomime but still succeeds in being a Christmas show with lots of fun.
Peter Pan is first seen chasing his shadows around Wendy's kitchen. When she finds a stranger sitting in her home, Wendy initially challenges him and then agrees to help him, reaching for the stapler to re-attach Peter to his shadows. Wendy is growing up in a foster home in inner-city Birmingham and has faced most problems so she seems particularly unfazed by this strange visitor.
Instead, she befriends Peter and decides to take both of her brothers, John and Michael, with her on an adventure to Neverland. Here she finds a group of Lost Ones, children whose parents have lost them, living at a skateboard park and dressed in a rag-tag array of recycled costumes.
As if this isn't bad enough, Wendy then encounters the embittered Hook, here played by Nia Gwynne, who is desperate to find Peter Pan and kill him in revenge for him cutting off her arm and feeding it to the giant crocodile.
Gwynne is a masterly villain, chasing Pan and the Lost Ones around the stage, scything through the air with her hook and planning evil on all sides. But she hasn't counted on the determination of Pan and his friends not to walk the plank!
Wendy is played by Cora Tsang as a blend of feisty and angry but with a soft inside which she discovers through her new friendships. Lawrence Walker's Pan is childish, keen to have fun and unwilling to accept any responsibility but there's also a sense that he would secretly like Wendy's life.
The production has been co-adapted by Georgia Christou and Liam Steel, who also directs. They've certainly taken Peter Pan in a new direction, replacing the fairy tale elements with an urban harshness which makes the domestic scenes very real. That's not to say that Neverland is normal – when you have giant crocodiles appearing to gobble up one-armed villains and flying children who refuse to grow up there has to be some level of the fantastical.
The sets are really impressive. We begin on the housing estate but are soon flying through the skies to Neverland where we also meet mermaids under the sea and are taken on board the pirate ship.
When J M Barrie created Peter Pan, he was writing very much for his place and time, this new version sets the story very definitely in modern day Birmingham in a Peter Pan which is very much reimagined.
I went along. It was appalling- completely stripped of all its magic the amount of tutting, eye rolling and sighs were audible.
We walked out at the break and so did hordes of others. However, itâ€™s hard to have read likeminded stuff about this abomination, as so many pander to an extreme liberalism that locks down honest debate.
This is from someone anti Brexit, who voted Labour, but this ill thought adaptation was the wrong platform for social issues.