12 December 2022
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
"An awfully big adventure"
On Thursday 24 and Friday 25 November 2022, we welcomed an audience in to the Summerlee Hall to take them on a magical adventure to Neverland. Extra-seating had to be released, due to the popularity of J M Barrie's famous story about the boy who never grows up.
Kathryn Schultz Miller's version of Peter Pan from ArtReach Children's Theatre Plays, begins the action in the Darling household. The stage was set, and with the help of OKA George Critchley, who offered his expertise as a professional theatre producer and owner of PMA Productions, the Darling household came to life.
The exasperation of Mr Darling attempting to tie his tie whilst having to be assisted by his wife, created a lovely irony as he informed his daughter Wendy that the time had come for her to leave the nursery and grow up. Mr Darling, played by Callum Benson, and Mrs Darling, played by Dotty Hackett, established the mood of the production from the outset. Their children, Wendy, played by Brooke Medhurst, John played by Raphael Ikram and Michael played by Manny Elleray, were very quick to object to Mr Darling's new rule; the injustice was beautifully portrayed when Mr Darling ordered the family dog, Nana, played by Sophie Noblett, to leave the nursery - which she did reluctantly, with a dramatic howl!
The exit of the "adults" is when the magic starts. The audience was transported back to a land of childhood and stories, into a timeless world. Peter Pan, played by Olivia Coupe, arrived through the Darling window searching for her shadow and so met Wendy and her brothers. Peter Pan's loyal but jealous companion, Tinkerbell, played by Tabitha Berry, reluctantly sprinkled fairy dust on the three Darling children and they exit the security of their home to fly to the "second star to the right and straight on 'til morning".
Schultz Miller's script uses fairies to narrate the journey of Pan and his new companions. Isabella Durston, Poppy Pickervance, Jessica Grice and Tilly Musson described to the audience the action that followed. The Indians, led menacingly by Hannah Pilkington, had excellent stage presence which contrasted with the haunting beauty of a well-choreographed and enchanting Mermaids' dance. Special thanks to my very talented team of choreographers Zea Trend, Raia Trend, Eleanor Smith, Abbie Southern, Charlotte Fisher, Eve Darwen, Gabby Pearson, Niamh Smith and Olivia Noblett.
Tinkerbell, tried in vain to prevent Wendy from helping Peter and the Lost Boys (played by Joshua Horton, Declan Calderbank, Henry Jackson, Rosa Gill, Charlie Cassidy and other pupils from the First Year to Third Year), but they were pleased to have a new mother, albeit for just a short time.
Underpinning the happy family though were some sinister characters. Peter Pan's arch-enemy, Captain Hook, and his Pirate Crew, played by pupils from the First Year to the Upper Sixth, were seeking revenge on Peter Pan, who famously caused Hook to lose his hand to the crocodile. Captain Hook, ominously played by Tyler Cowie, captured the essence of Barrie's story. His intimidation of Tinkerbell to gain knowledge of Peter Pan's whereabouts was comically dark in its portrayal. His exasperation at the unfortunate Smee, played by Shamir Ameer, also created some delightful scenes, especially with the kidnapping of Tiger Lily, played stoically by Louisa Seacy.
As ever, one of the most poignant moments of the play is when Tinkerbell shows her true loyalty to Peter Pan. Olivia Coupe, as Pan and Tabitha Berry as Tinkerbell, really roused the audience when asking them to clap if they believed in fairies. Tinkerbell and Peter Pan become reunited and Pan was able to defeat Captain Hook, once and for all, in a dramatic fight that, once again, led to the crocodile stealthily wending its way across the stage.
Wendy, of course, realised that childhood can’t last forever and she asked Peter permission to let her and her brothers return home, which he did reluctantly. Mr and Mrs Darling were relieved to have their children safely back at home, but Wendy has not forgotten the magic of childhood and Neverland, and the play ended with her talking to Peter at her bedroom window.
It was an incredible feat to manage the cast and crew of almost one hundred pupils, but the reaction of the audiences for all performances was testament to the commitment and dedication of all. Thanks too, to all the staff who assisted with the performances and we are hugely indebted to Old Kirkhamian George Critchley for the set, costume and advice he offered to all.
A selection of photographs can be viewed on our KGS Flickr page at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kgsphotos/albums/72177720303972636