Review: Peter Pan in Scarlet at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme

Adapter and Director: Theresa Heskins

Composer and Musical Director: James Atherton

One of the most famous boys in children’s literature returns to his roots back on the stage. Peter Pan is still in Neverland but there is danger afoot and the Darlings, now in their adulthood, know about it through vivid dreams they have. They decide to take action and take one final visit back to the place where children never grow up.

The New Vic has become renowned for their adaptions of famous classics while also pushing the bars of creativity and imagination. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that it seems to be the perfect fit for them to stage the world premiere of the stage adaption of Peter Pan in Scarlet which is a collaboration with the Oxford Playhouse.

With little else apart from some ropes, fabric, and the odd prop the actors use the Vic’s in the round auditorium as it’s creative playground to engage, excite and move the audience that surrounds them. Liz Cooke’s magnificent designs gift the audience the stimuli they need to transport into a world of beauty shown best when wood and swings become the Jolly Rodger.

The entire cast needs to be applauded for making the piece look effortless for what really is a physically demanding show. Not only do they dance, sing and portray well-rounded characters and scenic elements but also weave in-between drapes of fabric and create some marvellous aerial work which is directed by Vicki Amedume. The flight to Neverland, in particular, is beautiful and elegant. Issac Stanmore takes on the complex character of Pan but just as central to the plot are key female characters such as Tootles played by Suzanne Ahmet.

War is a powerful theme intertwined amongst the sword fighting and treasure hunting, along with key plot elements such as the rise of the underdog and the importance of growing up. While children are entertained by the duels and fistfights it’s perhaps adults who resonate with the challenging theme of the importance of letting go of youth and growing up.

It takes a short while for the plot to develop but once it does its full speed ahead towards the climatic end. The musical numbers composed and directed by James Atherton adds to the piece and the almost film-like soundtrack underscores the epic nature of the production.

Peter Pan in Scarlet is two hours full of excitement, mystery, and fantastic storytelling. With it’s intense and powerful themes, alongside well-developed characters and a clever set, it’s a story that engages everyone from the young to the very old. This is more than just a children’s book that has been adapted the stage. It’s a chance to get lost in your imagination once more. Return to your childhood and return to Neverland for Peter Pan in Scarlet.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

*Runs until 6th August before transferring to the Oxford Playhouse from 12th August.

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