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Peter Buckroyd review Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, The Attic Theatre, 10th October



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Peter Buckroyd review Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, The Attic Theatre, 10th October

Betwixt-and-Between theatre company celebrated the reopening of the Attic Theatre last weekend with performances of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, a splendid playscript by Charlotte Ellen from J .M. Barrie’s children’s novel.

The story of Peter Pan is best known from Barrie’s playscript of about 1904, but Barrie wrote four novels about Peter Pan, the first designed for adults in 1902 and then a children’s version of part of it in 1906. Charlotte Ellen does not shy away from the darker themes in Barrie’s work. There are allusions to childhood mortality, sibling envy, the conflict between the imagination and rationality, boys’ deeply ambiguous feelings towards their mothers and their separation struggles. But none of this is heavy-handed, just as it isn’t in Barrie’s novels.

Charlotte Ellen and Daniel Arbon (52249742)
Charlotte Ellen and Daniel Arbon (52249742)

The whole thing, running just under an hour, was a delight for all the family. It was played as a two hander by Charlotte Ellen and Daniel Arbon, and they made excellent use of minimal props and scenery. There was a delightful thrush’s nest on wheels in which Peter negotiates the Serpentine; there were many puppets of different kinds, often touching in their simplicity and handled with considerable skill; there was a tent constructed out of wood and cloth which doubled as several other things. The two actors played all the characters and, in dreamlike style, there were parallels between the different pairs of characters. Mary and her father morphed into Peter and Solomon Caw, into Peter and his mother and into Peter and Maimie Mannering. Kat Murrays’s lighting plot, too, was very well designed and executed, created range of atmospheres and emotions, all perfectly fitting with the text.

The play was enhanced by Patrick Neil Doyle’s soundtrack which created some lovely ironies and by the many songs. The whole thing had a kind of magic about it. I loved it and was charmed by it, transported back to an early 20th century surrealist world before the first world war. It deserved bigger audiences.



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