This multi-million pound production of Peter Pan is about to set off on a world arena tour and while it's easy to see where the money has been spent, it is a case spectacle over substance.
The huge set includes a lot of hidden doors, lifts and a backdrop that initially appears as a large bookshelf but turns in to a video screen. The projections are excellent and include live close up of the actors, animation and special effects. The huge, agile cast are supported by a massive ticking crocodile and Nana; the famous St. Bernard being somewhat reminiscent of a Chinese dragon.
The plot gets confusing when it strays from the well-known storyline for apparently no other reason than to show another spectacle, but with the number of people talking and children becoming restless, it was apparent this production failed to grab the attention of the audience. Maybe the coldness within the Metro Radio Arena itself did not help.
While much is made of the flying without wires, there are only a couple of brief scenes when an actor is airborne, similar to indoor parachuting. The main flying sequences are very stately with the actors hanging under what appear to be sturdy coat hangers that look capable of holding up a bus. Sadly, the whole thing looks too safe and the flying is restricted to the stage area, if they had managed to swoop and cartwheel over the audience it might have worked better.
The whole show is set to music with a selection ranging from Madness to Robbie Williams with Captain Hook singing opera. Neither Sandor Sturbal (Peter Pan) nor Lilley-Jane Young (Wendy) make a connection with the audience and while Luc Petit (director) offers plenty of spectacle he loses some of the heart from the show.