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It seems, at first, that Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel’s spin on J M Barrie’s 1904 perennial favourite is going to be an unusually grim affair.

With his mislaid shadow stitched back on, Hiran Abeysekera’s puckish Peter Pan is soon flying gleefully overhead and encouraging Wendy and her brothers to join him in the flight to a warm, pink-suffused Never Land where half a dozen Lost Boys (clad in tatty long johns and desperately in need of the comfort of a mother’s love) await his return.

There’s only a passing mention of Nana (the Darling family’s dog) but the ticking crocodile (cleverly evoked by a snapping ladder and an elongated scrap of corrugated iron) and diving mermaids with gas mask heads more than compensate. Jealous Tinker Bell is a metal puppet with a lantern for a body, and beds are upended, or piled high to create a house, a dining table or an island in the middle of a lagoon.

Uniformed soldiers are an almost constant background presence, rarely letting adults in the audience completely forget the terrible war raging elsewhere. But there’s much light hearted fun to enjoy here, making it the perfect outdoor treat for grownups and children alike.

In contrast, James Phillips’ new play about award-winning designer Alexander McQueen looks fantastic, but proves more style than substance. A lonely figure twisting his belt in his hands as he considers ending it all, Stephen Wight’s impressive Lee (as he was known to his friends) is surrounded by mannequins (some balletic humans with stylised moves, some just dummies and dismembered limbs). An uninvited visitor disturbs him – Dahlia (a somewhat monotone Dianna Agron from Glee) who claims to have broken in in search of a dress, but turns out to be his alter ego as they embark on a dark night of the soul, revisiting his past.

John Caird’s fluid production boasts a clever scene in which Lee fashions a dress on stage, the graphics are striking, and a stunning evening gown created from luxurious red feathers and microscope slides is on tantalising display. But the cat walk shows McQueen created were so much more dramatic than this script. Apart from a couple of snappy lines, even an encounter with fellow suicide Isabella Blow (the fashion editor who launched his career)  falls flat in a drawn out 100 minutes which fail to live up to expectations.

Peter Pan

Open Air Theatre

Inner Circle, Regents Park, NW1 4NR

Tube:-Baker Street

£25.00 -£48.50 + £60 premium seats

Until 14th June

openairtheatre.com

 

McQueen

St James, Palace Street, SW1E 5JA

Tube: Victoria

Until 27th June    

£25.00 - £65.00

www.mcqueentheplay.com

 


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Theatre Review: Peter Pan and McQueen
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