I am running away!
To run away into the world of the imagination: it can be dream for many of us. To have no worries, duties: just to live and be who we want to be. This delightful production from Betwixt-and-Between shows us in a funny way that this ideal is not that easy but also that there is nothing wrong with staying in reality to live our lives.
Mary, played by Charlotte Ellen, definitely has a big problem with becoming an adult. She doesn’t want to grow up and that’s why she’s decided to run away from her parents, to be a kid forever. It sounds like a perfect life, but is it real? When we stay in one place the world carries on turning; no one will stop the time around us. And that’s what Mary comes to realise – she can’t do it if she wants to be with her family. But we also have a second character here, George, Mary’s father (Daniel Arbon). He helps his daughter to realise what’s important in her life and why not everything can always be as we want it to be.
The scenography for this play is fantastic, even if very simple. There were just two fixed things on the stage: a bench and a tree, along with some portable props. It doesn’t sound like a lot but believe me, I saw them transformed into sailing ships, a fairy kingdom and much more. It can be easy to build the atmosphere of every single place depicted if many decorations are used but it takes much more effort from the actors to create it with just a simple set. The costumes were also great. Innovative changes helped the audience to identify each character as the actors swapped between multiple roles. The use of lighting was helpful in showing us the emotions of the scenes – mysterious and scary green light, warm yellow imitating the sun; these small details, added to the bigger ones, made this piece complete.
In a few parts, when the actors were singing, the audience were encouraged to join them by clapping along, allowing them to be a part of the play. This is a good way to build a connection between audience and the people on stage, especially for youngsters who might otherwise get distracted or bored. I definitely didn’t see that here; they were totally focused on the adventures of Mary and Peter Pan.
This play shows, in a very energetic way, the story of a beautiful relationship between a child and their parent: even if they are not the same they can find a way to understand each other. Maybe we should all think about that when we try talking to kids, because we were all one of them at one time, right?
Original story by: J.M.Barrie
Adapted and directed by: Charlotte Ellen
Produced by: Betwixt-and-Between
Music by: Patrick Neil Doyle
Lyrics by: Patrick Neil Doyle and Charlotte Ellen
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens plays at The Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre until 17 October. Further information and booking via the below link.