Peter Pan – Kensington Gardens

NB – I went to one of the Preview performance of this show… I understand changes have been made in the weeks after I went to see it in a bid to try and improve most of the issues that people were picking up on… See the comments at the end of this post for more info šŸ™‚

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Last night I went to go and see Peter Pan at the specially constructed Kensington Theatre in Kensington Gardens, London.

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Straight off the bat, I should state that I really didn’t enjoy this production. For the first time in my life, I actually left at the Interval, something I’d never considered doing before at any other production. I’ll let you decide the merit of my opinion on that basis, however I still think that there is probably still some residual value in my thoughts.

In my opinion, they absolutely butchered what has to be one of, if not the best, childrens stories ever written. The acting seemed to play second fiddle to the tech. For example, I got no chills when Wendy utters the immortal ‘boy, why are you crying?’ etc.

As a note on the acting, I am not suggesting that the actors were at fault (in fact, they are a fantastically accomplished and experienced bunch!!), and so that leads me back to blaming the script/staging.

I thought that I was right last night when I proclaimed to Greg that I reckoned that I’d noticed that (the fantastic) Jonathan Hyde was Mr. Darling / Captain Hook, but then I became less sure of myself. Looking at the website this morning, it transpires that I was correct. In a way, I am very dismayed that I had the chance to see Jonathan Hyde in action and, in a way, let it slip.

There was a lot of gloss on this production, without a layer of matte beneath to absorb the guff.

The whole first act just felt rushed.

The venue itself simply does not work. Essentially it’s a marquee, and whilst this worked for music-orientated productions like Cirque and Afrika Afrika, it did not work for Peter Pan.

The whole structure was far too noisy and it was near impossible to hear the actors. The sound quality in the venue was utterly abysmal. All I could hear was people walking around, clomping about and people talking. There were also a lot of restless children about – can you imagine what they’d probably be like at 10pm had we stayed?! The actors make use of the audience areas frequently, which will no doubt cause problems at some point, and at best adds a lot to the peripheral noise that already exists.

The venue is sat in the round, a medium which already has its distractions, mainly due to you being able to see everything and everyone. Being encouraged to up the distraction factor further by having cast members in the audience was a bad move in my opinion.

Do you want to know the shows biggest crime of all? Not one of the children that was sat around me seemed to be remotely engaged in the story. No giggles, no ‘wows’, no movement, nothing. All sat there, deadpan. How can they manage to take the magic out of Peter Pan?! If the kids aren’t enjoying it, you can bet that the adults aren’t going to be either!

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I should hasten to add, we weren’t the only people to leave at the interval. People were actually queuing up to leave! Granted, a percentage of those leaving may have been there on freebies… perhaps if I’d paid a whacking Ā£50 a ticket, I’d have forced myself to endure a second act. For that kind of money, and the production that we saw, personally, I would not have been happy if I am being honest.

Normally, I can forgive some poorly developed characters should there be, for example, some disco nuns to hand, however I could find nothing at all to offset the many negative aspects of this production, which is perhaps why I have been so unusually harsh to it.

The thing that had excited me most in the build-up to seeing this show was the tech. They have a huge 360 degree screen which they project your surroundings onto. The scene where they were flying over London was remarkable, I grant, however it quickly became less exciting in more stationary times. Perhaps not quite as exciting as I’d hoped.

The chap playing Peter Pan had some nice muscles, and the puppeteer chap was also rather dishy (I’m sure that you were very keen to know that!), however even they couldn’t distract me from the lack of enjoyment that I was getting from this production as a whole.

All in all, this was an absolute lame duck of a production for me. It didn’t seem to know where it was pitching itself, and the venue let it down immensely. Instead, I hope to go and see a more classical adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s timeless classic so that I can fully appreciate the sheer awesomeness of this fantastic story.

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About Gari

Thirty-One year old northern lad; living out in the Peak District and rediscovering life after having had a brain tumour.

7 Responses

  1. hstockley

    Having also seen the production during it’s preview runs I understand some of the above comments. However, it is only the previews and considering the proposed grandeur of the production I think you have to make some allowances!

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  2. Tania

    Attended press night last night and SO much of the production has changed. It’s really been tightened up, some sound genius man has been brought in to sort out the audio which is much better and quite big chunks of the script have been taken out or significantly edited. A really receptive audience including very enthusiastic children and adults as Jonathan Hyde, Ciaran Kellgren and Abby Ford (to name only the main players) kept us all very much enthralled. Worth a second viewing I would say!

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  3. Saw it last night – no problems with the sound. I think I was at probably the same seating position as you, but on the other side. The acting was a bit hammy, some of the storyline was changed, and simplified (for kids? guess its harder for them to keep focus on live stuff than a movie on tv) but I enjoyed it. And I thought the 360 degree screens were amazing, especially when they fly through London!

    The first act felt really long, I didn’t check how far through it the interval was but the second half seemed much shorter.

    Peter was hot to look at though his acting annoyed me, I really just wanted him to shut up after a while :p

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