Peter Pan at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre review

This Christmas sees the story of the ‘boy who wouldn’t grow up’ brought to The REP Theatre, reinvented with a 21st century twist.

Directed by Liam Steel the genius behind last years acclaimed Christmas favourite “The Wizard of Oz”, which also ran at The REP Theatre. This year Steel has skilfully visioned ‘Peter Pan Reimagined’ a reinvention of the 1904 classic by J. M. Barrie. 

Set in Neverland Court, a gloomy block of residential flats in an unknown location within Birmingham, Wendy, played by Cora Tsang, is struggling to deal with the reality of moving between foster parents and being let down repeatedly. The troubled young teenager clashes with Jess her foster mother and has taken on the role of the protective mother over her younger brothers.

The setting is worlds apart from the classic Peter Pan tale set in in a upper class suburb of Edwardian London. Battling with wanting to be an independent teenager and the need for a loving role model in her life, Wendy is thrown into a world of imagination and fantasy when Peter Pan, played by the talented Lawrence Walker, drops into her life to take her on an adventure to reclaim her childhood.

Gone are the traditional theatre serenades, instead the audience were treated to raps, loud rock music and even breakdancing, really giving hold to the ‘reimagined’ title of the play.

Aside from the storyline the audience are treated to a magnificent display of acrobatics and agility, with the use of a theatrical rigging system to make characters fly around the stage seamlessly.

In Neverland the audience is greeted by the familiar characters found in the traditional Peter Pan story, however it still has the modernised feel with both the set and the characters having an urban twist.

As the play progresses the audience learns more about how Peter and the lost ones are all missing a parental figure in their lives, with this tone being repeated in the play frequently as even the pirates are seen to be craving a mother figure that they dearly miss.

The main focus of the play is family and why family can have a huge impact on your life, which can be seen in the struggles each character is facing due to growing up without one. The feminist undertone within the play can also not be ignored.

In contrast to the original story where the sole focus being on Peter, Wendy becomes the main character in Peter Pan Reimaginged, with Tink also stealing the stage in every scene she is in. The traditional masculinity of the villain Hook is replaced by a female Hook, played by Nia Gwynne, who does a fantastic job at emanating the true evil within the character.

One thing that stood out about the theatricals was the smooth set changes which saw the scene change from the dull lifeless housing estate to the colourful juxtaposition of neverland, with the most impressive change being that of Hooks ship, complete with rigs and a sail. Gone are the traditional theatre serenades, instead the audience were treated to raps, loud rock music and even breakdancing, really giving hold to the ‘reimagined’ title of the play.

Peter Pan Reimagined has seen award winning director Liam Steel successfully adapt this childhood classic into the ultimate urban fantasy with contemporary twists. Taking you on a journey of excitement and rediscovery, bringing joy to the the whole family, this modern re-telling is not one to be missed!

Peter Pan Reimagined is being shown at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 30th November 2019 – 19th January 2020, with tickets available at birmingham-rep.co.uk or 0121 236 4455.

Words by Laura Bradley for Grapevine Birmingham https://insidelauraslife.com

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