Soaring through the night sky over Victorian London, Peter, Wendy, John, Michael and Tinkerbell twirl, somersault and flap their arms gracefully into the audience’s hearts. When Wendy is shot down by the Lost Boys the crowd gasps. And when Michael and John swim through the air chasing two lithe mermaids the theater pavilion suddenly transforms into an ocean garden. William Dudley’s awesome 360 degree 3D moving projections, paired with Fleur Darkin’s aerial choreography and Benjamin Wallfisch’s lavish musical score, combine to make one memorable fantasy.
However, as exciting as the technical support is, the storytelling tends to pale in contrast. To be fair, the entire play would have to be set in the air or underwater for it to top the opening sequence. So as it is, the remainder of the play feels flat and bland despite the cast’s considerable talent and expertise. Emily Yetter’s funny, feisty Tinkerbell captures the audience’s fancy with her jealous outbursts and salty expletives. Evelyn Hoskins infuses Wendy with adolescent energy and honest emotion, while Ciaran Joyce’s Peter is properly both pixie and realistic young boy. Steven Pacey as Captain Hook is sinister without becoming too terrifying and provides a nice contrast to his Mr. Darling.
Tanya Ronder’s adaptation remains faithful to the JM Barrie children’s classic, complete with sword fights, ship rigging and an open ending that will inspire discussions with younger audience members on the ride home. Joshua Holden’s puppeteering expertise with Nana the nursemaid dog and the gigantic ticking crocodile bring a welcome element of fantasy and enchantment to the longer non-flying scenes. But when audiences have left the tented pavilion they will remember this as the show that spectacularly sailed through the clouds, toward the second star to the right and straight on till morning.