Adults looking to rekindle the fire of their childhood imagination and tear the kids away from the Playstation for a couple of hours should look no further than The Awfully Big Adventures of Peter Pan. Adapted from the J.M Barrie classic for Harvest Rain Theatre Company, writer/director Tim O’Connor delivers a mad, chaotic and magical night of fun that probably won’t please the purists, but hey, who cares about purity when there’s so much fun to be had.
Without exception the performances from the energetic cast are wonderful. It’s hard to know where to start as everyone was on such fine form on opening night.
Perhaps it’s appropriate to start with the boy who never grew up. Happily Peter is not played by a small woman in green tights but by the charming Kevin Spink. In a cast full of over-the-top characters his Pan is refreshingly low-key and earnest. Pan’s tale is, after-all, a rather sad one and I was pleased that Spink resisted the temptation to play at being a jolly merry-maker.
As his arch nemesis Eugene Gilfedder (also Mr Darling) channels some serious Freudian mother angst in the role of Captain Hook. This is Hook via Woody Allen and he has some wonderfully funny moments with his acerbic and disparaging mother played by Helen Howard (also Mrs Darling), in great form here.
As the adventurous Darling children Naomi Price (Wendy), Scott Tilly (John) and Callum Mansfield (Michael) are charming. Lost boys Luke Kite (Slightly) and Tim Dashwood (Tootles) both bring nice comic timing. Cameron Hurry is a scream as the uptight Curly.
Hook’s inept crew are lots of fun too with Tim Dashwood and Luke Kite dong double duty as Noodler and Starkey. Dan Crestani delights as the officious and bumbling Smee.
But the gold star for the evening must go to Belinda Heit. I’ve seen some oddball incarnations of Tinker Bell over the years but nothing comes close this. It was like a Liverpuddlian check-out chick had popped on a fairy costume and decided to go on a bender. The effect was hilarious. You have to go along just to see her take on Tink’s death scene.
For all the limitations of a theatre the size of Cremorne, Harvest Rain has turned out a very handsome looking production. Talented designer Josh McIntosh has always had a flair for making a lot out of a little. He doesn’t disappoint here, transforming the tiny Cremorne stage into a twinkling toymaker’s jewel box. Jason Glenwright’s lighting design is atmospheric, taking us from the Darling’s home in snowy London to the forests of Neverland.
I loved the costumes. Wardrobe mistress Jo Fraher has done a great job and special praise must be reserved for Mrs Hook’s costume, which is like another character on the stage. Watch out for her hat – it hides a seriously twisted secret.
For writer and director Tim O’Connor this production of The Awfully Big Adventures of Peter Pan has obviously been a labour of love. Along the way he and his wonderful cast have soldiered on through disastrous computer malfunctions, have missed Christmas and New Year, and rehearsed in temperatures that make Perth’s heat wave seem tame.
But all that hard work has paid off. This is a charming, swashbuckling re-telling of the much loved classic that both adults and children will certainly adore. A must see for the holidays.
Harvest Rain Theatre presents
The Awfully Big Adventures of Peter Pan
Venue: Cremorne Theatre, QPAC | Cnr Grey & Melbourne Streets South Bank
Dates: 7 to 31 January
Tickets: $26.50 to $48.00 (inc. fees)
Bookings: qtix on 136 246 or qtix.com.au
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