03 September, 2009

Festival Blogger review - Peter and Wendy

Image: Peter and Wendy. Photo: Scott Suchman.

New York Company Mabou Mines’ Peter and Wendy charmingly retells the story of Peter Pan in a thoroughly original, and often eerie, way. Led by the brilliant narrator Karen Kandel, Mabou Mines uses a skillful mix of puppetry, song, dance and slapstick to bring J.M. Barrie’s classic to life.

Set to music arranged by the late Johnny Cunningham, the play reminds us of the darker and more tragic undertones of the story- the fear of growing up and the nastier side to Peter’s playful mischief. Dressed in white, with long veils obscuring their faces (and giving the impression of enchanted beekeepers) the puppeteers delighted the audience with a giggling Peter, a very sinister Hook, a ghost- like Neverbird and a Tango dancing crocodile. Johnny Cunningham (born in Edinburgh) has woven this Peter Pan with a beautiful mixture of fast paced Scottish folk music, and haunting laments which help bring a very Celtic feel to the play written by one of Scotland’s most famous writers.

While this production is not necessarily a feast for the eyes in the same way that many adaptations are, it still manages to charm and delight with its pop- up book scenery, twinkling backdrop and Pirate ship of fluttering sails. The flight to Neverland is a joy to behold.

However, it is Karen Kandel who undoubtedly steals the show. The lone speaker, she adapts voices for every character, and her playfulness (and hilarious impression of the Queen) helps add to the charm and lively nature of the piece. Although her Scottish accent was somewhat dubious, she is nonetheless to be applauded for her fine voice skills, comic timing and ability to wrench emotion from every possible moment. Like Peter himself, this play is a mischievous, entertaining and enthralling piece of work, to be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Reviewer: Eleanor Morton

1 comment:

HP said...

Very intuitive reporting. A most excellent sounding play.