JANUARY 5, 2024

The Egg Theatre in Bath has seen so many superb shows for children and young people but sadly Wendy: A Peter Pan Story is not one of them. Excellent in places, stunning and entertaining at times it was also lumpy, shouty, unsubtle and with dialogue that was at times incoherent with the cast unnecessarily mic-ed up. Thank goodness for electronic captions projected above the stage.

The cast however injected plenty of enthusiasm and movement – which was one of the best parts of the show – with some strong musical set pieces by Jack Drewry with fine choreography by Deepra Singh. Liana Cottrill as Wendy was brilliant, combining a sense of youthful adventure with her more serious home life side sorting out the family’s groceries and her mum’s prescription. Peter Pan was given a more muscular persona by the vibrant Joseph Tweedale while Alice Lamb in charge of the coiled puppet Tinkerbell gave the fairy an aggressive and bullying persona. Captain Hook lost some of the pirate’s wicked wit as comedy villain with Rozelle Gemma, but her portrayal of Mum was just right. And JoAnne Haines as Jon Michael was the essential tantrum enthused boy.

Reinvented as a sort of computer game, it meant much of the charm and magic of JM Barrie’s original 1904 play of Peter Pan was lost by a combination of James Baldwin’s playground inspired script and Jenny Davies’ uneven direction that tried to do too much. However, the mainly school age children in the audience remained transfixed with nods of recognition in some of the bullying scenes and vocalisation of the teenage insecurities.

Production values were high with captivating graphics, strong sound and evocative lighting and the set by Anisha Fields was perfect with its fridge freezer and to-do list on the door. Plus, we did get some traditional sword fighting between lost boy Tootles, Peter Pan, Wendy and Hook. But so much was jettisoned for the 21st century computer game version such as flying children and real mermaids that the overall feel was a show stuck on the ground rather than flying off to Neverland.

Harry Mottram

The show runs to 13 January 2024.

Tickets and information at https://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/events/wendy-a-peter-pan-story/