Stage Door Review

Peter Pan

Dec 12, 2018

✭✭✭✭✩

by Fiona Sauder & Reanna Spitzer, directed by Severn Thompson

Bad Hats Theatre, Young Centre, Toronto

December 12, 2018-January 5, 2019

Wendy: “When a new baby laughs for the first time a new fairy is born”

How do you adapt J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up for children aged three and up? You do what Bad Hats Theatre has done and write it from the point of view of children who have never grown up. Director Severn Thompson and her cast and creative team recall the transformative power of a child’s imagination and imbue the 75 minutes of this rumbustious adaptation with uncontainable energy.

In a child’s mind you can change one thing into anything else simply by declaring it so: people into heroes and villains, objects into anything required and motion into any sort of action.

So the company uses no stage machinery but merely endlessly inventive physical theatre to create its magic.

Peter (Fiona Sauder), Wendy (Lena Maripuu) and her brothers John (Victor Pokinko) and Michael (Landon Doak) fly without harnesses and pulleys. They are simply lifted up by other cast members and carried about. Tinkerbell the fairy is a golden tennis ball thrown or bounced from one actor to another and voiced with amusing gibberish by Reanne Spitzer. A sheet can be a bed sheet or the sky or the sea depending on how it’s used. A trunk can be a trunk or a bed or an island or even the jaws of the crocodile that eats up the more comic than menacing Captain Hook (Graham Conway). Peter Pan’s followers, the Lost Boys, turn into pirates with the simple addition of an eye patch and bandana.

Matt Pilipiak serves as the enthusiastic narrator who guides us through the bare bones of the story whose riotous action pauses for six lovely folk-influenced songs by Doak and the company.

Peter Pan is an ensemble piece where precisely coordinated movement and mime tell us more about the characters and their actions than props or words.

Some three-year-olds were so excited by the play they were literally jumping up and down. We more sedate adults, reminded of the power of imagination, inwardly did the same.

Running time: 1h15m.  For ages 3+.

Christopher Hoile

Note: This review appeared in NOW Magazine on December 15, 2017.  The cast and creative team are the same.

Photo: Fiona Sauder as Peter Pan (foremost) and Matt Pilipiak as Narrator (rearmost) with Lena Maripuu as Wendy, Landon Doak as Michael and Victor Pokinko as John. © 2017 Nicholas Porteous.

For tickets, visit www.soulpepper.ca.