AS the three weird sisters manipulate fate and action in Macbeth, so too do three girls in Ella Hickson’s wonderful new adaptation, Wendy & Peter Pan.
But instead of a sense of the supernatural working together to bring darkness, chaos and conflict, Hickson’s sisterhood of Wendy, Tink and Tiger Lily bring humility, warmth and strength while separately conquering all, in Jonathan Munby’s production.
These Neverland girls are not the weaker sex as they would have been back in Edwardian times, they are pivotal characters who offer a great sense of girl power, Wendy is the central force and Fiona Button plays her as a fearless warrior, aware of everything around her and as powerful as Lady Macbeth – but without an ounce of evil – however, similar in so far as she sheds her fragility in single-minded pursuit of her goal.
Her drive comes from grief over the death of her brother and she is determined to find her ‘lost boy’. She too feels guilt, but in this case she believes that her brother’s death was caused by her not sewing a button on, as apposed to playing a part in a heinous murder.
Button’s performance is exemplary, containing just the right amount of sorrow and enthusiastic optimism, as she constantly questions why boys never have to grow up and girls always have to be mothers. Her final realization of letting go in a good way brings around the inevitable happy ending.
Tiger Lily, played by Michelle Asante, is the complete opposite in respect of empathy. But she too is strong and assertive, a great tribal warrior who believes only the Lost Boys remain because the girls got tired of taking orders and playing mother.
She finally finds compassion when she is struck by Wendy’s loyalty in trying to save her.
The third girl triumvir comes in the larger than life form of Tink. Charlotte Mills is a delightfully naughty fairy, jealous of Wendy’s fine attributes and her “skinny arse.” Her mischief-making carries much humour as she drones on in her cockney ‘am I bovvered’ accent.
But this production is by no means a burn your bra affair. Despite the girls roles having equal, if not greater, substance in this story from the original, there is some fine acting also in the male camp.
Sam Swann gives an excellent performance as a naive and sweet Peter Pan, His aerodynamics are highly applaudable as he glides through the air one minute suspended from just a rope and gets tossed across the stage as if weightless the next by his shadows.
Guy Henry is a delicious Captain Hook, whose switch from evil pirate and sword-swashbuckler to prince charming; psychotic to neurotic, is a pure delight. Then thrown in is the top-hatted gentlemanly croc, superbly played by Guy Rhys, whose subtle movements really capture the animals haunting presence.
Colin Richmond’s design -which allows the stage to switch from the Darling’s Edwardian bedroom, to the forests and seas of Neverland, the underground hidey-hole of Peter Pan, and the decks of the Jolly Roger - is the icing on the cake for this technically sensational show.
It may be a twist on the original classic JM Barrie tale, but the strength of the women in this show only serves to enhance the magic of this winter treat.
Wendy & Peter Pan runs in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre until 2nd March.
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