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Peter Pan at the Open Air theatre

Published 22 May 2015

What’s it all about?

Seven boys with a severe mother complex and the perils of leaving a dog in charge of your kids.

Unless you’ve been living in your own Never Land for the past 111 years, you already know the story. Now imagine it in all its magical, wondrous, adventurous and sheer joyous glory in the equally heart-skips-a-beat-it’s-so-lovely surroundings of the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

Throw in some superb direction from Timothy Sheader, a company of exuberant performers, ingenious design and an equally clever – and crucially never forced – First World War sub-plot, and you have an evening of heart-warming entertainment that had children and adults alike clapping as if their lives depended on it to prove they believe in fairies.

In truth, so magical is this show that for that moment I think I really did.

Who’s in it?

A hugely impressive Hiran Abeysekera leads as the boy who wouldn’t grow up. Light footed, cocksure and fearless, he is a Peter Pan with swagger who ensures everyone falls under his spell from the first time he bounces off the stage and into the audience as he takes flight.

Kae Alexander is witty and endearing as Wendy, gleefully playing house as she takes care of both the lost boys – who, with their techno-bright ripped clothes and brilliantly vacant stares, look pleasingly like they’ve just wandered bewildered out of an East London rave – and a hospital of First World War soldiers in Sheader’s moving subplot that shows the reality of boys sent off for ‘adventure’ who lost the chance to grow up.

Last but by no means least, David Birrell takes on the iconic role of Captain Hook and nails it. Avoiding any pantomime clichés, he’s imposing, terrifying and hilarious in equal measures.

What should I look out for?

Jon Bausor’s transformative, eccentric set. Watch the faces of the kids in the audience as layers are peeled back, props are used in unexpected ways and Rachael Canning’s war-inspired puppets – think gas mask-wearing mermaids and a Tinker Bell made from a nurse’s lantern – appear for surprise after surprise.

The show’s motley crew of pirates who range from Hook’s Napoleon-inspired grandeur to samurai warriors and a Smee right out of Monty Python’s Spamalot.

In a nutshell?

Timothy Sheader’s Peter Pan is a magical wonder of an evening that uses ingenious theatricality and a poignant twist to ensure the show soars.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@alwesson Well Peter Pan at the Regent’s Park open air theatre was just stunning.. Magical! The beautiful theatre also helps ????

‏@milliebinks CONGRATS to the wonderful cast and crew of Peter Pan at Regents Park Open Air Theatre.. What a beautiful production @carlprekopp #perfection

Will I like it?

You may have grown up, but if you still crave adventure and dream of kicking up your heels and soaring off in flight, then yes. Check your cynicism at the door and become a lost boy for an evening under the stars.

Peter Pan is playing until 14 June. You can book tickets through the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre website.

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