Mercury Theatre, Colchester
2 August 2017
It has become something of a tradition for the Mercury to stage a show stopping summer family show, and, along with the Pantomime, it has become one of the almost certain highlights of the year. Wandering somewhat into Panto territory this year, co- directors Daniel Buckroyd and Matthew Cullum have wisely returned to J M Barrie’s original source to adapt this version, and it’s a joy. A terrific ensemble present the tale with no tricks hidden, costumes are changed quickly, actors become dogs, and, best of all, the flying involves no wires; the cast hold Peter and Wendy aloft and race them around the stage.
Designer Simon Kelly has created a magical set, a play room of delights that transforms easily from bedroom to Neverland, to pirate ship and back, and the enchanting lighting design by Mark Dymock is among the best I have seen at the Mercury. Emilio Iannuci is a wonderfully athletic Pan, silhouetted perfectly in the Darling’s window frame, and powering the stage with his enigmatic energy. Pete Ashmore excels as Captain Hook, all threat and cowardice, and Alicia Mckenzie as a sassy, Wendy loathing Tinkerbell provides many of the laughs. Charlotte Mafham is a convincing and lovely Wendy, and, among the Lost Boys and Pirates, I loved James Peake’s Welsh Slightly, Katherine Moraz as Smee, Sara Lessore’s dignified Tiger Lily and Nicholas Coutu-Langmead is a terrific Tootles. These actor musicians work so well together, and make a feature of their quick costume changes from Lost Boy to Pirate, and the steam punk inspired crocodile is another highlight.
At the end of the show, and this has become a wonderful tradition, the children in the audience are invited up on stage to meet the cast and explore the set, and the delight and magic continues long after the cast wave goodbye. You should never forget your visit to Neverland, and I promise you an unforgettable trip with this talented company.
Until 26 August 2017