Wendy and Peter Pan
Hayward Theatre, Saturday 11th December 2021.

“Peter Pan is a well-known children’s story, written by J. M. Barrie, which tells the tale of the Darling family and their adventures with Peter Pan, the boy who ‘wouldn’t grow up’.

“Ella Hickson’s ‘Wendy and Peter Pan’ beautifully re-tells the story from Wendy Darling’s perspective, as she is pulled between the freedom of childhood and the responsibilities of adulthood. From the offset, the play had us gripped with the sudden death of Tom Darling, which was portrayed poignantly by the Shadows’ physicality. Tom’s early departure is the catalyst for the strife between Mr and Mrs Darling, which was convincingly portrayed by Opher Gate and Rufus Froy as they encapsulated the struggles in comprehending the loss of their son. However, it is not all doom and gloom; as the story unfolds we are immersed into the fantasy land of Neverland. With beautiful notes of comedy and affection scattered through the play, the journey of Wendy and Peter Pan is a touching story for all.

“Tallulah Bruce was outstanding in her role as Wendy, articulating every movement with pression and accuracy, she demonstrated a wide range of contrasting acting skills that had the audience laughing, as well as crying alongside her. She was successful in her mature portrayal of Wendy through her character development, which created a convincing three-dimensional character who immersed the audience deep into the action. Her adaptability in differentiating the attitudes and relationships she created through her interaction with all the characters on stage reaffirmed this through every detail.

“Pan was played convincingly by Isobel Holland, who maintained an engaging stage presence throughout and captivated the audience through the range of vocal and physical skills she portrayed, as well as gaining lots of laughs from the audience through her excellent comedic timing. Isobel also effectively portrayed the tender tone to Pan’s character when reflecting on his past family, showing a depth to the character we had not seen before. Her interactions with Hook were ones of tension and comedy as the two juxtaposing characters would bounce off one another. Rufus Froy played an excellent Captain Hook as he channelled a Captain Sparrow-like approach to the role and successfully portrayed a villain with a comical edge.

“Further interest was brought through the relationship of Wendy and Tinkerbell. Their different personalities were immediately clear as Tinkerbell made her dramatic entrance from the wardrobe. Her mouthy and blunt attitude throughout, in contrast to Wendy’s innocence and soft-spoken nature, fused the conflict between the pair. Arabella Guyer, who played the role of Tinkerbell, perfectly balanced the love Tink has towards Pan with the cold-hearted nature of her character. Guyer maintained consistent energy throughout and successfully maintained a prominent accent and comical dominer.

“The final half-an-hour of the show was deeply moving as Pan shows Wendy the sky full of lost boys and she gets the opportunity to say goodbye to her brother one last time. The family was then reunited and we witnessed a poignant interaction between Wendy and her mother (Mrs Darling) as Wendy explains her time in Neverland and seeing their late brother, Tom. Opher Gate showed outstanding skill as she successfully portrayed both Smee and Mrs Darling, two very contrasting characters.

“The ensemble brought another layer of excellence to the show and added atmosphere to each scene, as they multirole from elegant shadows to grog drinking pirates. Special credit must go to Old Elean, Orlando Squires, who taught and guided the cast through the complicated and intense stage combat routines, which were highly effective in adding to the excitement of the show. The collaboration between the ensemble and leads was evident throughout as they worked together to create an incredible piece of theatre.

“The hard work put into the show by the backstage crew was obvious through the slick set transitions as we shifted from the jungle to Captain Hook’s pirate ship within seconds. Knowing that all the backstage crew were King’s Ely pupils made the transitions even more impressive. Special thanks must also go to the make-up team and the incredible tech crew, who were controlling the sound, lighting and projections throughout the show, which all added to the magical atmosphere of Neverland.

“However, none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the phenomenal direction of Nick Huntington, whose original and clever concepts of physicalized theatre stunningly portrayed the twisting story in every intricate detail. Your legacy and talent will be greatly missed, Mr Huntington. We wish you the best of luck in your new role (pardon the pun!) and thank you for all the support and dedication you have given to the shows and your pupils over the years.”

Review by Sixth Form students, Olivia Thomas and Georgina Schosland.

Images by Sixth Form student, Jessica Harding.

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