Review: Peter Pan @ Sherman Cymru
Wednesday 5th December 2012
As a child, The Sherman played a huge part in my Christmas routine. Every year, until the age of nine, mums from a prenatal yoga class got together and took their kids to see the Christmas show at the theatre. As part of this flock, I always came away dazzled and feeling marvellous.
Peter Pan is the first festive production following the venue’s two-year refurb and it suitably flies into realm of “awesome”, as my ten-year-old sister happily announced during the interval.
J.M. Barrie’s definitive work, Peter Pan, is a classic with universal appeal and a guaranteed happy ending; perfect then for a Christmas family treat. The tale begins in a flat within a modern day city - throughout the performance, the contemporary touches aren’t overdone and bring the story right up to date without reducing its timelessness; Wendy, still recovering from the death of her mum, is taunted by brother John about her training bra as she reads to the younger Michael; Dad, a flailing entrepreneur who brings in gifts for his children - trainers, pens and perfume - before Wendy realises that he has pawned her mother’s belongings in order to pay for them. After throwing a bit of a tantrum and falling asleep on the sofa, the magic soon begins as the Peter from Wendy’s stories glides through the window in search of his shadow. Cue wide-eyed delight from all children in the audience and a broad smile from me.
After the opening number of a cracking original score from Dafydd James (Llwyth, Gwaith Cartref), some very clever projections and the unveiling of a truly enchanting set (featuring an array of huge vine-like fabrics in shimmering turquoises to make up the forest), Neverland soon appears and we meet the highly endearing Lost Boys - Tootles, Curly and Nibs. With the childlike flair and comedic timing needed, Meillr Rhys Williams, Daniel Graham and Adam Scales truly made these roles their own and, despite their lacking in number, provided enough personality to fill the stage.
In their professional stage debuts, Joshua Considine and Rebecca Newman shone as Peter and Wendy; with his pronounced haircut, Considine looked like a member of Jedward and brought a petulant edge to the classic role, whilst Newman impressed with her clean vocals and, when it was needed, a believable motherliness.
Hook, of course, tries to ruin the fun and Russel Gomer (Being Human, Journey’s End) took on the role like a pantomime villain with his devilish ploy to poison Peter evil enough to be hissed at. His brilliantly bungling and wonderfully Welsh accomplice Smee, brought to life by Kyle Rees (Emmerdale, Hollyoaks), makes a mess of everything and appeals to everyone.
With a fine script, which veered little from the well-known plot but added enough euphemism to keep parents giggling, and strong performances all round, this show is a real winner. For me, it was a perfect way to rediscover a Christmas tradition and remind a younger sibling of the magic of theatre. Good work Sherman!