To mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, Phil Willmott’s new musical takes the principal characters from the Edwardian children’s classic Peter Pan and projects them into the bloody reality of the global conflict that began shortly after JM Barrie wrote his tale.
Willmott’s big theme is the death of innocence, a subject for which he finds a powerful dramatic metaphor as he imagines The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up (Steven Butler, right) signing up for ‘an awfully big adventure’ and finally discovering what it means to be ‘a man’ on the battlefields of France.
It’s a shame more stage time isn’t spent on the front line, where the story threatens to achieve real psychological and moral traction. Unfortunately, there’s an excess of whimsy as pre-war Peter, translated from the safety of Neverland to the adult world, takes a fleshly fancy to Wendy and quickly discovers that kissing…
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