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Wendy and Peter Pan at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
An awfully big adventure faces audiences at the Lyceum this Christmas season.

Even before curtain up, the cast has a whale of a time playing various instruments, singing and dancing in the foyer before award-winning writer Ella Hickson’s adaptation of JM Barrie’s famous story takes us on a whirlwind journey through a magical playground filled with naughty children doing things other children should never try at home - like fighting and flying high into the auditorium!

The imaginations of Hickson, director Eleanor Rhode and designer Max Johns seemingly knew no bounds when they were putting together this explosion of fun.

The first night audience certainly felt the effects of fairy dust as they whooped, cheered and laughed at the antics of uptight Michael and Mummy’s boy John Darling (played convincingly by Cristian Ortega and George Naylor), the Lost Boys and the rest of the characters as they strived to overthrow the dastardly Captain Hook. It’s a high energy production. Mayhem and pandemonium were words which came to mind as the actors put their hearts and souls into doing what children love to do best – run riot in a world of make-believe.

But there is one element of this show which JM Barrie didn’t create – girl power. The clue is in the title! In Wendy and Peter Pan, Wendy takes centre stage as the force behind the search for her lost brother Tom (sympathetically played by Keiran Gallacher), and Isobel McArthur is a little powerhouse as the sometimes bossy, sometimes needy big sister. In complete contrast, Peter Pan is portrayed as a hapless, selfish boy, and Ziggy Heath, though tall in stature, hits the spot with his childlike and childish interpretation.

Strong female roles continue with a sassy, streetwise Tink, dressed in sequinned leggings, Doc Martens and tatty wings, and played with great panache by Sally Reid. Then there’s Bonnie Baddoo, making a memorable professional debut as the feral and very physical Tiger Lily one minute while transforming into the mature, sensible and loving Mrs Darling the next.

Making just as big a transformation is Gyuri Sarossy, who plays both Mr Darling and Captain Hook. As a father and husband he is refined and upstanding but he also shows a softer side when playing with his children. As Captain Hook, however, he is every inch a psychopath, an East End thug, complete with piercings and a permanent sneer. The audience loved to boo him, but not so his right-hand man, Smee. With his cheery smile and lovable nature Dorian Simpson proved to be a firm favourite.

This is family entertainment on a whole different level. Don’t’ miss it!

Wendy and Peter Pan is at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh until Jan 5.
Box Office: 0131 248 4848

image: Mihaela Bodlovic