Wendy and Peter Pan @ Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

The Lyceum's spectacular Christmas show is an enchanting, magical, funny, empowering production that is not to be missed

Review by Elaine Reid | 03 Dec 2018

It’s that most wonderful time of the year again and The Lyceum, as ever, has triumphantly sprinkled its enchanting magic with their Christmas offering, Wendy and Peter Pan, directed by Eleanor Rhode. This time, actual fairy dust falls from the sky and transports the entire audience off to Neverland.

There’s a notable shift here though in Ella Hickson’s retelling of J. M. Barrie’s classic story (with the original first staged at the Duke of York Theatre, London in 1904), and while the characters and tale are familiar, it’s significant that the title of this production is Wendy and Peter Pan, not just Peter Pan. Wendy, played with spunk, spirit and charm by Isobel McArthur, isn’t just content to play mother to the lost boys she finds when she follows Peter to the island with Michael and John in search of their lost brother. She’s got a plan, and leadership skills to boot, and it’s not only Peter who can do the saving. 

Tink meanwhile, played brilliantly by Sally Reid, is sassy, funny, cunning and brave too, with some of her West Coast patter, including the wonderful use of “pure shan” and comedic expressions and actions, rendering the audience into fits of giggles. 

There are other shifts of gender stereotypes too, with Michael more interested in the pretty fauna and mermaids on the island than on heading out to hunt the pirates. Tiger Lily, meanwhile, is strong, independent and brave and can clash swords as well as anyone on the Jolly Roger. 

The entire cast illuminate the stage with their talent and enthusiasm. And the set itself, designed by Max Johns, is expertly transformed scene-by-scene, with intricate detail in every piece, such as the miniature pirate ship sitting on the floor of the Darlings’ bedroom. Meanwhile Peter’s underground hideaway is full of colour and fun with a balloon rainbow stretching over the back of the stage, a fireman pole, bathtub and endless games. By contrast the Jolly Roger, with its impressive skull and crossbones sail, is dark and foreboding, led by Gyuri Sarossy as Captain Hook, who plays the role with vigour and talent. 

There’s a touching endpoint too in this beautifully crafted tale when Peter, played with charisma by Ziggy Heath, tells a story about the twinkling stars in the sky, Wendy finally finds her lost brother, and learns how to fly without fairy dust.

An enchanting, magical, funny, empowering production, which should not be missed this Christmas. Simply outstanding. 

Wendy and Peter Pan, The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 5 January, https://lyceum.org.uk/whats-on/production/wendy-peter-pan