Got myself a front row seat to see this two weeks before Christmas tonight, used an NT credit to pay for it (no interest in Amadeus and already got tickets for Red Barn, Hedda Gabler and Dublin Oldschool so not much else of interest to me coming up) Looking forward to it, probably the first remotely festive theatre production I'll have been to since I was at school.
There were lots of things I liked, and lots of things I vehemently disliked. However, I'd say the overall effect of the evening was positive. I love all things Peter Pan, so it was a pleasure to see the story told in a such a unique way.
My 2 specific qualms were (1) the songs and (2) Tinkerbell. Regarding the songs, there were just too many of them for a show that isn't meant to be a full-on musical. They tended to stop the action and add very little of value to the show, and personally I just didn't find them to be very well-written at all. There were 2 notable exceptions, however - both in Act 2. I also found the portrayal of Tinkerbell to be thoroughly unfunny, so much so that I cringed every time (s)he was onstage. I've loved Peter Pan since I was a very small child, and I've seen many retellings of it. This was the first time I considered not clapping to bring Tinkerbell back to life (ultimately, I did clap anyway - I will ALWAYS clap for Tinkerbell - but man was I reluctant). Those were my two specific problems. More generally, there were also just some moments that fell flat and/or dragged a bit (understandable for early previews of a devised piece)
HOWEVER, there is a lot about this production that I really liked a lot. There are some gorgeous moments of staging, many laugh-out-loud sections, and a fun quirky energy throughout. The ending had me full-on crying (though Peter Pan tends to make me cry quite easily).
I enjoyed this quite a bit more than Jane Eyre, which I found to be extremely tedious and pretentious. I think Peter Pan inherently lends itself to devised theatre infinitely better than Jane Eyre.
Anna Francolini was weak as Hook - maybe she will improve by press night and I realise she is replacing Sophie Thompson. The best performance was Madeleine Worrall as Wendy - touching and natural. Paul Hinton as Peter was way too old. Over all didn't enjoy it as much as I expected (I loved Jane Eyre.)
I know it's Cookson's style but with the National's resources I'm getting a bit fed up with The Olivier default production style of 'let's put the show on the road right here.'
Anna Francolini was weak as Hook - maybe she will improve by press night and I realise she is replacing Sophie Thompson.
I believe that Sophie Thompson had been very involved in the characterisation of Hook in the lead up to the production before breaking her wrist so it's no surprise that (however admirably she's done it) Anna Francolini hasn't settled into the role yet.
Just arrived at the NT and it's being billed as 2 hours 40 mins, which I hadn't clocked before - is it me, or is that very long for a kids show?? It's going to challenge my attention span! I was expecting a brisk two hour canter through...