okay, so they're calling it Peter Pan, but neptune's last play of the season shows you why the boy who never grew up inspired the man who spent his adult years desperately seeking a way back to childhood.
it's a great take on the old tale, mixing just the right level of child-like wonder with childish petulance. you can read my review for halifaxnewsnet.ca below.
Everyone knows the story of Peter Pan, the perma-boy who refuses to grow up, but Neptune Theatre’s new musical fantasy unleashes the classic play in all its frenetic, strange and creepy glory.
Stephen Roberts bursts onto the stage as a big little boy literally crowing with confidence.
“Peter Pan is the sun, the moon and the stars,” a lady admirer swoons.
“I know,” replies Peter. If anything, the boy wonder is only slightly puzzled that there is not more adulation.
He starts the play leaping into the Darling nursery, looking for children. Okay, maybe he wants to make some new friends. After much singing and dancing, with Roberts busting out back flips midsong, it turns out that in fact he’s just looking for a mother. Preferably one who can sew him some pockets. And tell him some stories.
Wendy (Blair Irwin), never before assaulted with such sparkling charm, falls for him immediately. She grabs her two brothers, overlooks the jealous digs of Tinker Bell, and flies off to Neverland.
Things get real when Keith Savage shucks off his Victorian garb as Mr. Darling and dons a fabulous pirate outfit to become a slushy hot mess sliding about the stage, his crooked body perched over tottering boots, as the menacing Captain Hook. I’m sure Sigmund Freud would have been muttering “interesting” and taking notes.
After much singing and dancing, with Hook slashing through a saucy tango, we get to the heart of his beef: Hook, too, wants a mother. So do Peter’s pals, the Lost Boys. So does everyone who isn’t a woman, basically.
Peter surrounds himself with motherly candidates – the sweet Wendy, the miniscule Tinker Bell and the sultry Tiger Lilly – but gosh darn it, they seem to have other ideas. Tink hates Wendy and tries to kill her, Wendy strong-arms Peter into “playing” father and Tiger Lilly (Heidi Ford) makes her intentions clear with a series of dances that give Peter lots of reasons to want to grow up.
“There is something Tiger Lilly wants to be for me, but it’s not my mother. What could it be?” a perplexed Peter puzzles.
Michael Jackson the Musical rolls on to the final confrontation between Peter and Hook, who seems a lot like the sort of man Mr. Pan might become, should he leave Neverland.
The clunky sword fighting resembles the slow-motion battles from The Matrix, only without the cool special effects, and the much-ballyhooed flying at times looks like nothing so much as a man being hauled around by a rope secured to his shirt, but the high-energy cast, musicians, superb sets and absurd clock-bearing crocodile more than make up for that.
Peter Pan is Neptune’s last play of the season, and it’s swinging for the fences. James M. Barrie wrote Pan for kids, but it resides in the crepuscular light between childhood and adulthood. Neptune’s take on it keeps the kids enthralled, but offers plenty of ideas for adults, too.
Peter Pan is at Neptune Theatre until May 30. Book your tickets at Neptunetheatre.com or by calling 429-7070.