The Barn Theatre, Cirencester
5 Stars *****
After too many wearisome months of lockdown, what a treat to once more visit the innovative and inspiring Barn Theatre for their Christmas offering of PETER PAN. The choice conjures up complicated sets, lost boys, pirates of all shapes and sizes, a large ship, menacing crocodile, stroppy fairy and much more STILL! Oh, and the small matter of flying above London and the oceans to Neverland!
But at the Barn all these amazing things are indeed presented and represented with absolute aplomb, tremendous imagination and dazzling energy, in a tour de force performance by just one solo actor, Waylon Jacobs.
He is Simply Tremendous!
Jacobs is a seasoned Musical Theatre actor with significant credits such as Hamilton, Memphis and The Last Five Years amongst others. In this fresh, new, solo reimagining of J.M.Barrie’s classic and much loved story, he powerfully demonstrates command of the stage from the outset. Starting in functional hotel room he immediately draws us in, wondering how on earth anything resembling the full story of Peter Pan and his shadow can possibly be told without a large 3 story London townhouse, or large imposing French Windows drawing us out to the stars…
But from a small colourless hotel room, he picks up a light, a coat and we see the first spark of Fairy dust, and the long dark sweep of a lost shadow… and as a father alone in a drab hotel room three thousand miles from home, Jacobs begins to create his daughter’s favourite story across a computer screen. An epic tale of adventure, pirates, fairies, lost boys and a crocodile with gigantic teeth unfolds, and ALL the characters are become vibrantly alive before us! We are transported to the world of eternally young and always stubborn, Peter Pan, who absolutely refuses under any circumstances, to grow old.
It is a magnificent achievement!
Jacobs manages to captivate his audience, young and old, holding us in the palm of his skilled hand as he reimagines the simple room and transforms into every character in London’s Bloomsbury, before flying off across the night skies of London to Neverland, enhanced by wonderful line drawn projection animations from Benjamin Collins (who consistently produces the most exquisite projection design at The Barn!) and imaginative movement direction from Tosh Wanogho-Maud ~ Jacobs does for a moment look as though he is actually flying free!
Peter declares he is…
A Mermaid Crusher
Emperor of the Lost Boys!
Alan Pollock has created an impressive solo adaptation of PETER PAN, co-conceived by Director-in-Residence Kirk Jameson, alongside Nick Barsto’s atmospheric, engaging musical score. Gregor Donnelly’s set and costume design are as always, creative, beautiful and perfect, with Harry Smith’s sound design and Joe Price’s Lighting Design completing this brilliant Creative Team.
Against all odds, this 2020 Cirencester Christmas season will be filled with magic, fun and pixie dust, transported to Peter Pan’s Neverland by Waylon Jacob’s mesmerising, captivating and powerful one-man performance.
Wonderfully, those unable to actually get to the physical theatre building itself, can also share this Christmas magic as The Barn Theatre are also making their production available for free streaming to hospitals and care homes, alongside launching a digital schools tour to reach as many children as possible!
These digital initiatives follow The Barn Theatre’s recent acclaimed stream of their wonderful production of Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me A Little, also directed by Kirk Jameson, and their critically acclaimed digital co-production of Henry Filloux-Bennett’s adaptation of What a Carve Up! directed by Tamara Harvey.
Barn Theatre Artistic Director and CEO Iwan Lewis is to be commended for these tremendous initiatives. He is rightly proud to be launching this digital schools tour after an unprecedented and tumultuous year that has been so challenging for children and schools. It may be that even more children will experience the magic of live theatre, albeit virtually, from the comfort of their classroom this year!
“Bravo” say we all!
The Barn also plans to run international live streams for the general public (details yet to be announced). That this small but perfectly formed regional theatre has achieved so much in a just few years and is now reaching out to a digital audience far beyond it’s physical reach, is both heart-warming and remarkable.
A timeless story, re-imagined.
Beautifully crafted, created and directed.
And performed with such energy, skill, joy and startling storytelling.
This is a magical Christmas Imagining!
And at it’s heart a hugely impressive, magnificent performance from Waylon Jacobs!
Transported to another world, as we all should be at Christmas!
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
(Peter Pan ~ J. M Barrie)
(All Photo Credits: Eve Dunlop)
Book YOUR tickets here: https://www.barntheatre.org.uk/peter-pan
Box Office at 01285 648255.
PETER PAN is running until the 3rd January 2021.
Photos by Eve Dunlop
Reviewed by Catherine Françoise for Mozart to Musicals.