Peter Pan at the Actors’ Church
Braving the British weather is one thing; braving this less-than-exciting Peter Pan is another. St Paul’s, the Actors’ Church, hosts Slapstick Picnic’s latest adventure in their beautiful central London garden.
Peter Pan is the story of a flying boy who takes Wendy Darling and her brothers back to Neverland, where he is forever young and she can be their mother and they can all see fairies and find mermaids and fight pirates and blah blah blah – everyone knows the story by now. This adaptation follows the general gist of JM Barrie’s classic work, including the pretty outdated themes about women and mothers that the show nods to but doesn’t do quite enough to revoke.
It’s fun but not funny. The jokes raise a smile but stop short of raising any real laughter and, contrary to the company’s name, there isn’t a whole lot of slapstick. Most of the humour instead comes from Michael being a little psycho and Tinkerbell talking in a fairy language that sounds suspiciously like she’s just listing font names. It’s all ok but it just doesn’t have the magic that Peter Pan can have. Some of the story is a little bit rushed and characters frequently disappear when their performer is playing someone else, making it difficult for them to really have much impact.
The cast is good: lots of energy, lots of commitment. Lucy Green is probably the standout as Wendy, Hook, Nana and Slightly, with all her characters feeling a little more developed than others. And there are worse places to be than out in St Paul’s garden, even during the inevitable rain – it’s a lovely space and makes for a great Neverland. The rest of the set just consists of a small stage with a few gingham rags around it so the garden is definitely doing the heavy-lifting.
While it’s not all bad, Peter Pan is probably not the hilarious garden spectacular people are looking for this summer.
Photo: Tom Dixon
Peter Pan is at the Actors’ Church from 13th until 15th July 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.