Review: Peter Pan flies high as Co-op Juniors triumph in Neverland
PUBLISHED: 11:33 07 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:50 07 July 2019
Peter Pan, by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, Ipswich Co-op Juniors, Big Top, Trinity Park until July 14
Peter Pan is a classic children's tale that's entertained children for decades but it's more than that. It's also a tale for adults about not leaving their youthful spirit behind as they get embroiled in the cares and responsibilities of adulthood.
Ipswich Co-op Juniors get this balance just right in a bravura production which just fizzes with invention and imagination. Director Oliver Brett unleashes a barrage of wonderful visuals which doesn't just take in the staging but also includes the costumes and the props.
Everything in the production looks as if it has been made from items which could have been found in the children's nursery. I loved the Chinese lamps becoming stars and planets as the children flew to Neverland and the crocodile that menaced Captain Hook was mounted on a pram and made out of concertinaed lampshades.
Everything is played out on a giant-sized bed in the middle of a revolving stage and all the row boats and flying sequences are played out on a flotilla of smaller beds which glide around their larger cousin.
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The show was packed with energy and cast well. Former Co-op Junior and now professional actress Harriet Bacon was invited to return to her roots to play the children's mother while Courtney Yule, as Wendy, does a great job of striking that balance of being a feisty, independent mother-in-waiting while still being the young girl who occasionally still needs to be mothered herself.
Henry Skillern looks great as Peter Pan and has fun with that arrogant narcissism that Peter needs for the character to work. He also works well with the preening, cowardly Captain Hook, played by Chris Evans in full pirate pomp.
The pair trade barbs and blows in a pair of expertly choreographed sword fights. Smaller beds attach to the main bed to form the different levels of the pirate ship and I loved the coat stand as the jutting prow of the vessel.
Director Oliver Brett has delivered something akin to the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics - quite how he managed to get so many bodies crammed onto one stage, all doing things, all performing, all in character, without crashing into one another is a remarkable feat.
His attention to detail is to be applauded. The pirates are particularly well drawn, all having individual personalities and costumes which reflect their particular quirks. It's a hugely enjoyable and lovely looking show and the singing is top notch too with a great orchestra MD'ed by Jo King.
The only drawback on the first performance was that for much of the first half, it was difficult at times, to hear all the dialogue. A big top is not a naturally great acoustic space and while the radio mikes were great during to songs they could have been boosted during the dialogue sequences.
I suspect the technicians picked up on this as the show went on because the dialogue was much clearer in the second half. It's a terrific show which plenty of spectacle and a boat-load of great show tunes. What's not to love?