Okay, so it’s nearly the end of January now, and your thoughts have left the festive season behind, but I was a bit late booking for Wendy and Peter Pan. Here’s a tip. If you’re interested in getting seats for a small group to see a show at the RSC during the holidays, and want to learn by my mistake, you should start organising before the end of November.
Although now that we’ve done this late the once, I’m tempted to say I’d repeat it. It was good to gather the family together again, post festivities.
The observant amongst you may have wondered if I’ve got a bit muddled about the title of the play we saw. No, it’s not a typing error. This is an adaptation of JM Barrie’s, Peter Pan and Wendy. Ella Hickson has reversed the order of the two names to reflect the changes she’s made to the story (don’t worry, she’s not so much fiddled with the plot as shifted the focus to include more of Wendy). If you’re interested, you can read more about that, and a whole lot more other information on the RSC website.
Okay, it’s their show: they’re bound to rave.
What did our party think? Fab. That’s all of us, from the youngest (who is five, two years younger than the recommended age, but he didn’t want to be left out) to the oldest (not me, Granny).
The set and costumes were amazing, and full of surprises. The scenes shifted seamlessly. The underground home of the lost-boys opened up out of the stage floor as if it were the top of a clam-shell, looking brilliantly den like; Captain Hook and his crew sailed the Jolly Roger back and forth across the lagoon, pursued by the ticking crocodile, and the cast bounced effortlessly off the ground, the walls, the furniture and the rafters.
In addition though, the story had enough depth to be delivering entertainment on all our levels. This version is not just about boys being able to run wild, it opens up questions about what part girls do, and should have, in that. Hickson’s version of the play is a fusion. The setting, and a lot of the references are Edwardian England, but the twenty-first century keeps seeping in.
‘Come on girls, we’re going to up and at ’em,‘ shouts Tinkerbell, clumping heavily out of the den to lead the battle charge, in her off-pink frilly dress and sturdy leather boots.
Tradition has been updated. All around me the audience drew in a collective breath as Peter appealed for us to save Tink. ‘Could we help?’
‘Yes,’ called a child’s voice, and then there were others, not just one or two voices, the answer echoed across the auditorium.
Theatre, huh? When it comes right down to it, there’s something magical about watching a drama played out on a stage. The engagement of the imagination; that act of suspending disbelief is such a special experience, and sometimes, thanks to this oh so realistic digital society, we forget that there are other ways of discovering truths about ourselves and the world around us.
My wish is that every child could have the opportunity to visit a show like this. If nothing else, it’s got to be good for them to see grown-ups who can let go and imagine. But on so many other levels too, theatre seems to me to broaden our horizons.
You don’t need to have children to enjoy this show. There were unaccompanied adults in the audience too, looking just as dazed as the children when the lights went up and we had to step back into the mundane business of going home.
If you’re anywhere near Stratford-upon-Avon, this show is on until March 2nd and in case you haven’t realised, I’m thoroughly recommending it.