Peter Pan: flying over the stage

Photo Credit: Steve Tanner
It’s a sad moment when we forget how to fly. One day we wake up and realize a lot of games are no longer 'suitable' for our age. At least - in some cases - until children come to the house, and we glimpse a bit of what we used to play daily.

Thankfully, there is theatre which, with its magic, can let us enjoy some sparks of that fantastic world and further adventures. And what is best than a play about the eternal child who lives within every one of us?

Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, dates to the very beginning of the 20th century, but in the years there have been many productions, movies, and stories based and inspired by it.

This time, The Companies, who devised the play, are now at the National Theatre, after a first successful run at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre in 2012. They make great use of fairy strings to let the characters fly all over the stage, bright colours everywhere, and a movable stage – with trapdoors and circular movement.

Peter Pan (Paul Hilton) has almost lost his shadow in Darling house, if it wasn’t for Wendy (Madeleine Worrall) who helped him to reattach it. In return, the girl and her brothers are invited to Neverland, where the Lost children, wolves, and mermaids live. But the inhabitants of the fantastic islands are threatened by the pirates, led by the cruel Captain Hook (Anna Francolini).

Will the fierce Captain find at last his revenge against the boy who never grows up?

Photo Credit: Steve Tanner
The first scenes – the ordinary Darling house with Nana, and then the shadow-hunting of Peter Pan - are set in the front section of the stage, to let later the whole space open for the fantastic world of Neverland.

The cast is brilliant, but, in this particular play, a lot of the magic on the stage comes from the work behind the scenes.

Extras, production members, and technicians are part of a well coordinated team who slides up and down as counterweight for the flying effect, changes the scenes – with a lot of colourful props – rapidly, and move the lights in order to conceal the secret of such magic.

Throughout the show we are accompanied by contemporary music, perfect matching for many scenes where we have the least dialogues, but a lot of imagination going on. Together with the Darling brothers and Peter Pan, we are indeed flying out of the window, waving at the birds while passing through the clouds, and eating delicious food cooked by no one and coming from nowhere.

The effects altogether really impress, and perfectly satisfy that need of fantasy we have, to escape, but also to better understand the reality. As underlying messages, indeed, we are reminded how good is for someone who has lost his mother to be welcomed back again in a family, and how bad - with bad consequences - is not to accept weaknesses or to be jealous.

This is a fantastic production that would relieve your heavy mid-of-the-week working day – I would say, we probably need this show more than children!

However, the only condition is to free your mind from any too rational preconceptions. At this stage of life, we may have forgotten how to fly. With a pinch of fairy dust, though, you will easily find your wonderful thought again.

Dates: 17 November 2016 - 4 February 2017