A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Friday, 6 December 2019

REVIEW: Peter Pan, The REP Birmingham



I’ve had the total joy of enjoying The REP’s Christmas shows for the past three years, and there’s one thing I always say to someone heading along to the show; always expect the unexpected. The REP has such a fantastic way and process of putting on shows that take a production, spin it on its head, make it modern, inclusive and totally creative, that I can’t wait to shout about them to everyone around me. 


This year’s is no different. Peter Pan – Reimagined, which takes to the stage until January 19 2020, is a modern take on the classic story. Forget the grand Georgian home in London, this show is set in a block of flats in Birmingham. Forget the homely, welcoming family, this show is based on kids living with a foster carer. 

Wendy and her little brothers were separated from their mother, and are currently living with Jess, who is trying her best to look after them all. Wendy has taken on the role of the protective mother to her brothers, and struggles to trust adults as they have always let her down. One night, the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan, gives Wendy the chance to escape to a magical world, Neverland, which is full of fun, energetic, and mischievous Lost Children. 

However, Neverland is also home to naughty mermaids, a hungry crocodile and of course, Captain Hook. The story follows Wendy and Peter Pan desperately try and save themselves, her brothers and the Lost Children from Hook, whilst the audience learns about why the children are lost, and what they wish they could have from a family. 


What makes this story so different from the original though is that this story is much less about Peter Pan himself, and so much more focused on Wendy, making it a refreshing, feminist reimagination. From the very start of the show, the audience becomes involved in Wendy’s story, desperate for her to feel like she can just be a kid again, and not always have to be the one looking after everyone else. Wendy has so much sass, but watching her enjoy herself is truly heartwarming. A particular moment where Wendy has to think good thoughts to be able to fly actually brought a tear to my eye, it was such a beautiful aspect of the production.
And yes, the cast very much do fly! With the help of ‘shadows’, which we are introduced to at the beginning and by the end we barely notice, many of the cast members fly, bounce and swirl across the stage, making the production so magical and fun. 

The set is a star in itself, we go from Jess’s flat in Birmingham to urban Neverland, to the Lost Children’s home and to Skull Island, with so much ease. Every single aspect of the set is so creative and imaginative, with my favourite touch being the crocodile being made of car tyres, making each scene a total feast for the eyes, with the audience constantly noticing cool creative touches throughout the production.  


It didn’t stop with the set either, there are so many sides to this show that make it so cool, fun and different from the original. Instead of soft, gentle songs, what we would expect, the audience were treated to group dances and a rap, where the whole audience got involved. There was also a real feminist edge to the show, which pleased many audience members, as well as a handful of Birmingham references that we all absolutely loved, of course!

Every single cast member was full to the brim of talent, comedic timing and enthusiasm. Peter Pan, played by Lawrence Walker, was just brilliant, by being frustrating and cocky, yet fun and loveable. The uber talented Nia Gwynne takes on the role of both Hook and Jess, and was excellent at both roles, however her take on Hook was fascinating, bringing a humble touch at times to the traditionally evil role. However, the star of the show was Cora Tsang, whose take on Wendy was just beautiful and so relatable, she is definitely a star in the making and I can’t wait to see what she does next. 

The production may be a modern twist on the classic story, but the festive message remains the same; the importance of family. How we all need to be looked after from time to time. Home is where you feel safe and secure, but that home can be anywhere, and your family is who you love. I can’t recommend this show enough. It is creative, so much fun, and full of life and imagination. It’s not a panto, its better!

Peter Pan: 9/10

*I was gifted two press tickets to enjoy this production from The REP Birmingham in return for a review on this blog. 

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