Reviewed by Nigel Chester
Derby Theatre is local for us and always a joy to attend. Car parking is directly under the theatre and after 5pm is only £2 for the entire evening, meaning that you arrive relaxed and ready to be entertained. There is both bar and café for light refreshments and being set within, but not part of the Intu Centre, you can make it a full day out.
We were so excited when it was announced that this year’s Christmas show was to be Peter Pan, as it is a family favourite. Who doesn’t like Peter Pan? It truly has everything, magic, fairies, mermaids and pirates as well as a complex under-story of growing up. It is a story of love and relationships, the story deals with issues as relevant today as they were over 100 years ago when J M Barrie first took the play to audiences at Christmas 1904.
This wasn’t the first professional production of Peter Pan that I’ve seen and I doubt it will be the last, but I can say with some certainty, it will be the best, for me it was practically perfect in every way! Firstly, the company of actors, though adult in the main, were age appropriate; no creepy Pan, stealing little children from their beds, but more a Pan who was equal to Wendy, maybe a little older, but undoubtedly less mature.
Music and costume were both magical, wonderful and brilliantly bizarre. The costume was in the style of steam punk, a nod back to the plays Victorian roots, but a very modern idea. The actors changed their outfits very little to change their characters completely, a good example of this is Jack Quarton, who transforms from Slightly, one of the lost boys, to Nana, the nursery dog and nursemaid to the Darling children, as a lost boy, wearing a type of cowboy fur chaps, add a fur trapper hat and he became a dog. I even found myself gasping when Mr Darling chained Nana up.
The troupe were the orchestra, and very accomplished they were, Ru Hamilton was the stand-out musician, he played a cello on top of a bunk bed and changed instruments throughout the evening, even playing the harp, I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if a grand piano had made an appearance. In the tradition of troubadours, the lyrics and music move the play on and the use of the guiro for the tick-tock of the crocodile was fun.
There was humour aplenty and I must say I felt a little guilty when Wendy said, “I don’t believe in fairies” and I laughed at the result.
The musical score, written for this production, was folksy in style and well performed, Esme Sears belting soprano was excellent. This was a technically tight production with outstanding set design which allowed the actors to move and play in a childlike manner, lots of high energy climbing. Nothing was left out, though the Redskins had now become wolves for respectful reasons.
Derby Theatre’s Peter Pan has it all, mermaids in lagoons, a huge crocodile, it has trepidation and magic as well as a spectacular starry night sky to fly through. The audience were captivated, age is no barrier to this sublime adventure, the very youngest members of the audience were enthralled, as it is visually beautiful and we oldies loved it for its message of love and friendship.
Tickets cost from £12-£28 (booking fees may apply).
Peter Pan is at Derby Theatre from 2 December 2017 to 6 January 2018, for more information or book tickets visit www.derbytheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01332 593939.
Derby Theatre, 15 Theatre Walk, St Peter’s Quarter, Derby, DE1 2NF | 01332 593939