Presented by Fifth Business Theatre Company
Reviewed 21 Jan 2018
Many professional shows leave one with vivid memories of a theatrical experience done brilliantly; after all one would like to think that that is the company’s job. A few community theatre productions also manage to leave a wonderful lasting impression. But it is extremely rare that an amateur youth company manages to have the effect of staying in one’s mind (for all the right reasons). Fifth Business Theatre Company’s production of George Stiles, Anthony Drewe and Willis Hall’s musical version of J.M. Barrie’s classic, Peter Pan, is that rare exception – wondrously and indelibly imprinted on this reviewer’s mind for many years to come.
By updating the story from Victorian England to the London Blitz of World War Two and utilising the entire huge auditorium (including upstairs) of the Tyndale Christian School as the arena, Director Andrew Hawkins has presented a highly innovative, stunning and energetic delight. The orchestra is hidden and the audience sit in a ‘theatre-in-the-rectangle’ configuration amongst strewn furniture and bricks and rubble, even an unexploded bomb (which has its use in the climax). Hawkins presents the whole thing cleverly as if we are watching war-torn orphans playing on one of London’s many bombed out sites at the time. Julie Benham’s costume design adds to the feel with thechildren all in makeshift costumes (shirts, shorts, sleeveless vests, military apparel such as berets and medals etc). The ‘adults’ are the only ones in full attire; with Captain Hook’s costume being particularly stunning.
To ensure stunning and captivating story-telling and that every possible space is filled with movement, Hawkins is assisted by Rebecca Mason’s exuberant and beautifully flowing choreography. The dance moves and over-all blocking are highly imaginative, wonderful to watch and expertly executed by the youthful cast.
Amelia Taylor as Wendy was absolutely charming, but with just the right amount of sterness hinted at when required. Riley Bassett was the quintessential Peter Pan; he was cheeky, quirky, but with a style of leadership the Lost Boys respected. The Lost Boys as played by Jackson Morton, Joshua Hariz, Mitchell Allen, Joel Tripodi, Ethan Bishop and Lewis McClure were all absolutely fabulous and stole the show.
For someone in their teens, James Glynn-Roe has an excellent Shakespearean quality to his voice, which he used to its full potential as Hook. The company state that it has a strong focus on teamwork and ensemble and these boxes were well and truly checked by the entire hard working and excellent cast.
As if all this innovation and imagination weren’t enough, the ending of this version was one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of theatre that this reviewer has seen.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey