In this Fairytale Revolution, Wendy’s adventure is awfully big, so big it carries timely messages much larger than your average Panto. The piece, written by Louise Beresford and Anna Spearpoint, maintains the heart and humour of a traditional pantomime. But further than this, it admirably seeks to teach its young audience about bravery, defying expectations and the importance of taking control of your own story.
The Narrator, represented by a pink light on stage, oversees all the fairy-tale characters in Neverland and ensures that they stick to their assigned roles. But Wendy (Anais Lone) has had enough and she’s itching to do much more than stay at home while Peter Pan (Helena Morais) and the Lost Boys go out to fight pirates.
On Wendy’s quest to step out, she meets Captain Hook (Louise Beresford), a frustrated poet, who is also reluctantly shackled to his narrative to remain evil. Seizing the chance to step out too, he hopelessly erupts into haikus and sonnets when inspiration strikes. In their quest to challenge the Narrator, they form an endearing friendship and are joined by Baker Swife (Anna Spearpoint), who the Narrator has banished to an isolated borough for 184 years for seeking to change her story.
The first act thuds along whilst setting up the show’s main premise and there are one too many quick one liners and throwaway jokes included in the mix. But in the second act, the show kicks it up a gear as the mission to challenge the Narrator takes shape and there are lots of fun bits of dialogue and lively, well choreographed action packed sequences.
This show has all the elements that you would expect from a child-friendly Panto: from the whimsical set design; the colourful array of costumes; the silly plot twists and songs which take inspiration from other known crowd pleasing favourites. And of course, what Panto would be complete without the endless opportunities for the audience to cheer, boo and take part in the ‘he’s behind you!’ gag.
The four-person female cast have buckets of energy and particularly excel in engaging with the vocal kids during unscripted moments. Louise Beresford is brilliantly comedic as Captain Hook, Anna Spearpoint delivers some hilarious punch lines as Baker Swife and Anais Lone is delightful as the perky lead protagonist. A special mention must also go to Helena Morais who with impressive stamina uniquely characterises around 20 supporting roles in the fairytale universe from Smee, Hook’s trusty side-kick to both Hansel and Gretel.
What’s most pleasing about this one is that at its core, it seeks to challenge tired cliches and stereotypes. The villains for example are disarmed not through violence but through pies, poetry and empathy. Wendy’s individual agency to change her circumstance and her narrative is also a welcome storyline to see represented on stage. This production is fun, refreshing and should leave audiences dancing and smiling once they leave the theatre.
Cast: Wendy – Anais Lone; Hook – Louise Beresford; Baker Swife – Anna Spearpoint; Peter Pan/Smee – Helena Morais
Creatives: Writers – Louise Beresford & Anna Spearpoint; Director – Carla Kingham; Musical Director and Composer – Hannah Benson; Designer – Daisy Blower; Lighting Designer – Ali Hunter; Sound Designer – Daniel Balfour; Movement Director – Belinda Chapman.
Photo Credit: Helen Murray