Friday afternoon, after a visiting my husband’s mother in hospital and taking her back home when she was discharged, we headed back into London to see the new production of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. I booked the tickets months ago and I’m so glad I did. The show is doing so well they have added extra shows, but it does finish on 13th September. This is mainly due to weather as the show is held in a giant tented theatre pavilion in the heart of Kensington Gardens, the place where J M Barrie first imagined Peter Pan.
The production is performed in the round, on a round stage in the centre of circles of seats. There are only about nine rows of seats, all graduated upwards so there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. In the top of the tent is a large space to facilitate the flying action, and all round the edges are screens. During the show, computer graphic images are projected on to the screens, giving the audience the impression they are right in the centre of the action. When the Darling children fly with Peter Pan and Tinkerbell over the London rooftops to Neverland, it feels like you are flying with them too. Similarly, when they visit with the mermaids under the sea, it feels like you are swimming through a magical ocean. It is like nothing I have ever experienced before in a theatre.
The flying was quite amazing; there is nothing like seeing people fly over your heads, and although you can see the flying apparatus, it is quite easy to pretend it is not there. The set is very clever as well, with more trap doors than I have ever seen before, allowing changes of scene without having to draw a curtain. Pieces of the set appear and disappear through the floor, along with (from time to time!) members of the cast. The cast also move through the audience, making you really feel a part of things. Any animals are portrayed through puppetry on the grandest of scales - the crocodile is a sight to behold and Nana, the dog, is just incredible.
The cast and crew are all amazing, and the production is nothing short of spectacular. We spent a magical evening in Neverland, and as we walked back through Kensington Gardens in the darkness on our way to the underground station, we all reflected on what a wonderful adventure it had been. I highly, highly recommend this show, for children and adults alike.
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