The Lost Boy Peter Pan, at the Pleasance (review)

The Lost Boy Peter Pan is Action to the Word’s take on Peter Pan, which plays this Christmas at the Pleasance in Islington. Spoiler: it wowed my children and had a lot of magical moments for me too – and I promise I am not only championing Action to the Word as they develop their shows in my more local neighbourhood of Catford.

Even before the show starts, the pre-show music (like Strange Magic) is getting us in the mood for magic. It is important to believe in magic and fairies to watch The Lost Boy Peter Pan, and even the bigger kids like myself find this easy for the duration of this show, thanks to the warm heart and effervescence of the checked pyjama-wearing cast.  The production also deals with the eternal themes of immortality versus growing old, adventure vs settling down, and talks of love, being a mother and also needing a mother.

The company is impressive and each one is a versatile multi-instrumentalist but the stand out performer has to be Toby Falla as Peter Pan. He draws the eye in every scene, looks the part and is acrobatic and proficient on a number of instruments, including voice.  The kids really loved Michael (/Smee/Nana – played by Thomas Parrish) and I was also rather keen on John (played by Joshua Leese), whose instruments are bass and saxophone. Music-wise, we loved a brilliant rocky version of The Pretender by Foo Fighters, and the emotional No Surprises (with added tick tock) played on cello and keyboard with some lovely vocals.  This family show really does appeal to all ages, from 3 years upwards, and to (almost) all music tastes.

I met director and writer Alexandra Spencer-Jones earlier in the year (see interview here) and was really impressed by her enthusiasm and verve. From this show, and from what I have seen and heard about her others, it is clear that she puts everything into her productions, and also that music forms an integral part to her shows.  In interviews she speaks of actor-musicianship, to describe the multi-talented nature of her actors, and the initiative to use live music as part of the narrative. You need a special sort of chutzpah to mix songs by eclectic artists such as Foo Fighters and Barry Manilow (although you younger people may be thinking of Take That when you hear the first, romantic strains of Could it be Magic). Spencer-Jones also has quite a talent for casting. If you are looking to see something with your family in the days that remain of the school holidays, please do check out this show which is on until 7th January.  You might have seen Peter Pan before, but The Lost Boy Peter Pan is something else.

hattydaze rating: ****/*****

We went to see The Lost Boy Peter Pan thanks to press tickets. It plays at The Pleasance until 7th January 2018. See website for booking details.

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