Anna Francolini as Captain Hook. Credit Steve Tanner
Anna Francolini as Hook and Paul Hilton as Peter Pan. Credit Steve Tanner
PETER Pan is one of the most enduring of all children’s stories. Featuring the boy who never grows up it tells the story of his adventures with Wendy, John and Michael Darling who end up flying with him one night to Neverland where they meet Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys and do battle with the evil Captain Hook.
It has been adapted for the stage many times over the years, but a new version, now on at the National Theatre is an absolute gem.
Remaining faithful to the original story, with loss and love at its heart, it has been given an update with a modern twist in a version that is both playful and exuberant with a gloriously funky soundtrack from Benji Bower, fabulous costumes, a stellar cast and plenty of technical wizardry.
Indeed it is this that adds to the zestiness of the piece, showing off the impressive and vast Olivier stage with floor to ceiling ladders on either side on which counterweighters climb to allow the actors to leap about on ropes - and almost fly into the audience. Their “fairy strings” are always visible and provide them with endless entertainment.
And mid way through, the stage revolves and Captain Hook’s ship, made mostly out of what looks like a skip, comes up from the bowels of the theatre and eerily into view.
Devised by Sally Cookson and the cast, it is a great show - the musicians visible at the back of the stage, the Lost Boys also playing mermaids and Captain Hook’s crew and, in a genius move, doubling up the roles of Mrs Darling and Captain Hook reinforcing Peter’s unhappy vision of mothers.
Peter himself, played by Paul Hilton, is all green suited, boyish and immature and totally unaware of his allure, particularly when it comes to Wendy.
Wendy meanwhile, played by Madeleine Worrall is gloriously feisty - no starched nightdress for her, instead the same striped pyjamas as her two brothers and as eager for adventure and to do battles with Peter’s foes as Peter himself.
Hook, superbly played by Anna Francolini, is all glittering teeth, gothic black corset and purple silk skirt and bewigged with an ending that is brilliantly staged.
It is a fantastic production, both wonderfully funny but with plenty of poignant and sad moments that dazzles with mischief, invention and adventure.
Peter Pan is on at the National Theatre until February 4, 2017. Tickets from £15. Visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 020 7452 3000.