Kaine Ruddach and Isla Griffiths in Peter Pan at the Rose Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet

Review: Peter Pan, Rose Theatre

Review: Peter Pan, Rose Theatre

Another festive triumph at the Rose

With magical puppets, fairy dust, a band of pirates and a rogue crocodile, J.M. Barrie’s classic children’s tale is brought to life on stage for the Rose’s festive show. The theatre can be relied upon for something suitably Christmassy without it being the usual panto. There are usually only a few professional actors with the rest of the cast made up of young aspiring talent, many of which come from the excellent Rose Youth Theatre. Production values are high, and you can be guaranteed a flurry of snow at the end. This year’s show does not disappoint. The children in the show are divided into two casts. On press night, it was the turn of the Green team.

The story, if you need a refresher, sees Peter crash-landing into the bedroom of the Darling children. He’s fun, mischievous and doesn’t want to grow up. Teenage Wendy is disillusioned with her parents. They fly off, along with the two younger siblings, to Neverland. What’s particularly enchanting is how the flying scene is handled with lit papier mache puppets representing the children as they fly over the rooftops of London. A puppet made from what looks like just strips of paper is also brilliantly used to recreate the straggly family dog. Tinkerbell is a small lit orb who jingles rather than speaks. The two actors responsible for manipulating them do so brilliantly.

Adapting the classic tale is Evan Placey, with music and lyrics by Olivier Award-winner Vikki Stone (Hey Duggee), and is directed by Lucy Morrell (Beauty and the Beast). They have gone the route of having Captain Hook played by the same actor that plays one of the parents – and Michelle Bishop does a fine job as both the mother who is trying her best but failing in Wendy’s eyes and as the swaggering Captain Hook. Kaine Ruddach, another of the four professional actors, is well cast as the mischievous Pan. The songs work well, the dance numbers are sensational – particularly stand-out is So You Think You Wanna Be A Pirate.

At times, the lines do get a little too saccharine when it comes to drawing observations on motherhood and family. But that is a small niggle, and hey, if there’s any time for sentimentality it’s Christmas.

The cast is exceptional – and there are many stars in the making.

This is a fabulous show, and a must for the festive season.

Rose Theatre, until 7 January

Images: Mark Douet